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Is Health Insurance Like Buying TVs?

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post wonders what it would be like if we bought televisions like we buy health insurance:

Imagine you went to Best Buy and found a great deal on a plasma television set. I want to be clear: You didn’t find a great television set. This one is actually a bit crummy. The picture is fuzzy. Consumer Reports says it breaks down a lot and it’s expensive to fix. But it’s really cheap. The price tag reads $109.

When you take it to the counter the saleswoman tells you that the set will actually cost you $199. And count yourself lucky, she confides in a conspiratorial whisper. There are customers whom Best Buy won’t sell it to at any price. You ask her which customers those are. The ones who need the TV most, she replies.

So here’s the question: Does that television really cost $109?

Best Buy, of course, would never do this to you. If they say you can buy a television set for $109, you can buy it for $109. Plus, they’re handsome, their customer service is great and I hope they advertise in The Washington Post forevermore, amen.

But this is actually how the individual health insurance market works.

Need Health Insurance? I Have a Deal for You (Maybe)

Have you had to buy your own health insurance? Tell us about it in our discussion forum!

Related posts:

  1. Open Enrollment: Could Buying Health Insurance Get Easier This Year?
  2. Is Health Insurance Through an “Association” Really More Affordable Than Buying On Your Own?
  3. Obamacare: Will Health Insurers Try To Game New Health Insurance Requirements?
  4. Will Small Businesses Self-Insure to Save Money on Health Insurance?
  5. Obamacare: Is Your Health Insurance Good Enough for 2014?

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