Healthy consumer? Don’t charge a premium

by Anne Zieger on August 13, 2012

Sometimes, taking an idea to its extreme offers food for thought — and this is definitely extreme.  What would a world be like in which a consumer who’s in measurably great health paid little or nothing for their health insurance coverage?

Yeah, managed care execs, I can already hear you screaming “How can we survive this way?” But hear me out. There’s more here than you might have considered.

*  Even if John Smith is a regular Adonis, so healthy that people step aside in awe as he walks down the street, he has to have relatives, parents, a spouse or partner, children or friends that aren’t so lucky.

How much to charge them for care is another story, and in the future, will have as much to do with health reform than it does the actuarial tables. But the point is, they’ll be paying customers, and you’ll quite possibly get them at a lower cost of acquisition than you might have otherwise.  And bear in mind, if John is athletic, eats well and has no major genetic problems, his family probably isn’t keeling over with several chronic diseases.  It’s a social reality.

The point is, John Smith will bring at least some of these folks with him. “Just look at the great deal I got!” he’ll say.

*  Consider the Jared phenomenon.  Look at this guy, who went from morbidly obese to slim, who’s constantly being paraded around as a Subway rep.  Health plans could do this too.

What’s great about this is if you recruit ordinary, healthy policyholders as spokepeople, rather than having doctors or wellness experts lecture, you’re more likely to get the attention of ordinary people. Maybe these healthy consumers could ultimately lead neighborhood walks, shake hands at stop-smoking classes and the like.  The idea would be to personalize the experience of health, rather than turn it into this corporately-imposed gold standard.

So, go ahead, knock holes in the idea. But I think it could work…

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