Education and Solidarity Network

Behavioural health insurance: blame it on the unhealthy

Romain Chave
October 24, 2016

The principle is well known to car drivers: the more virtuous is a motorist, the cheaper is the insurance premium. Could it be applied to health insurance? Smokers, heavy drinkers, fat and sugar eaters or inactive people could see their health insurance premiums / contribution increased. People with healthy habits could get discounts. Technically it would be possible. Thanks to technology and connected items, health insurers are able to analyse people habits and module contributions/premiums. This might look appealing: empower individuals to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce health costs. 

But this paradigm shift lets two fundamental elements on the side of the road. Firstly, being healthy is not always a choice. Genetics, social and environmental context influence individual behaviours and health promotion initiatives are usually more effective for the rich and famous: upper social categories or already healthy people.

Secondly, the great strength of our solidarity based social protection systems is to cover everyone regardless of wealth, health status, social background, etc. This universality dimension enables our systems to be financially viable and socially inclusive. The French association of mutuals Mutualité Française recently spoke against behavioural health insurance in an article available here. (FR)

 

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