Uninsurance insurance. Yep, that's the latest arrow in the quiver of health care insurance giant UnitedHealthcare. As it loses covered lives thanks to layoffs of folks insured through employer-sponsored plans, UHC is looking to pick up a few bucks by selling insurance to folks who are currently insured but fear they might not be at some time in the future. By paying 20% of what their health insurance premiums would be, folks can lock in access to health insurance in the future having to worry about pesky details like pre-existing conditions and personal risk profiles that would pump up premiums in non-community-rated jurisdictions.
At least two fellow Health Wonks have weighed in already: Bob Laszewski lays bare the folly in this endeavor in a Julie Rovner piece on NPR, and Joe Paduda shakes his head in wonderment at Managed Care Matters.
Here's the thing: between COBRA (which lets you buy continuation coverage post-employment at essentially the same rate — yes it's expensive, but it's no more expensive than what UHC is offering to guarantee access to), and the right under HIPAA to buy insurance individually or through a new group plan even after a gap in coverage if you have sufficient "creditable coverage," with no pre-existing condition exclusions, most bases are already covered.
UnitedHealthcare's move looks to be a cynical combination of fearmongering and a bet against meaningful health care reform under an Obama administration.