Friday, October 18, 2013

Why can't you see the price before you make an account with all your personal information?

Most of the problems with the website so far seem to be due to the decison to make people create an account--with all their personal information--before they can see the prices of the various insurance pakages available. So why do that? Yuval Levin in National Review Online:
Some journalists and analysts have speculated that this decision was made in order to prevent people from seeing premium costs before they could also see any subsidies they might be eligible for, so that the shock of higher prices could be contained and so that simply curious observers and journalists couldn’t get a picture of premium costs in the various states.
This is certainly a plausible explanation and is in line with the fundamental dishonesty of the Administration, but it is a lot less disturbing than the explanation I had formed in my own mind, that they wanted to have all your information in order to track you down and force you into buying insurance. Of course, my more sinister theory can still come true even if the other explanations are actually correct as to how they came about. Now that they have come about, how they are used is another matter.

Later, in the same long piece, he makes another point that had not occurred to me and which I had not seen discussed anywhere else.

One key worry is based on the fact that what they’re facing is not a situation where it is impossible to buy coverage but one where it is possible but very difficult to buy coverage. That’s much worse from their point of view, because it means that only highly motivated consumers are getting coverage. People who are highly motivated to get coverage in a community-rated insurance system are very likely to be in bad health.
 That means that the whole problem the mandate was designed to avoid--only people that know or strongly suspect they are going to be sick buying insurance thus causing rates to go up and making it even more unlikely that healthy people will sign up leading to an upward spiral of costs--may be afoot. 

No comments: