Friday, July 26, 2013

The danger of polling the masses...Employee Choice in Carriers

Journalists, a term used loosely as few actually practice the craft any more, love polls. Easy to create, easier to write stories off of, and if you put even a little thought into the questions your guaranteed to have the narrative you want to push.

Which brings me to this tidbit;

"A new survey out this week from insurance researcher HealthPocket corroborates that idea, with 65% of employee respondents saying they’d like to select their health insurance company rather than have their employer choose."

I think first we need to remember who we are talking about, over-generalizing here but employees are the same people that:
  1. Will pay four times as much for a brand name instead of the generic
  2. Will pay ten times as much for the new heavily advertised combo pill instead of taking two generics
  3. Will go to the hospital for a non emergency MRI paying $2400 instead of getting one outside the hospital for $600
 I could go on all day but they have seldom proved themselves to be smart consumers. On the contrary: if it wasn't for the huge investment employers make in picking and managing health insurance plans, most of them would not even have insurance.

Properly run insurance should be a commodity anyways, a $2500 HSA from Anthem should have minimal differences than one from United. What are you choosing then if you're picking carriers? Website? Customer Service quality? Contract Negotiation? Do we think employees would actually be adept at measuring any of these and making informed decisions, or would we quickly end up with marketing gimmicks? Carrier with the biggest star endorsement. Freebies and add-ons. Funniest Super Bowl commercial. Do we really need more advertising in insurance? Do we not see how that has worked in Pharmaceuticals?

What employees should be picking are more cost effective and higher quality providers, physician and hospital. They should be shopping for cheaper drugs and lower cost MRIs instead of worrying about the paper pusher at the end. 80-85% of cost goes to care, let's fix that and then worry about the insurance.
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