Critical Condition

NPR Explains It All

National Public Radio yesterday, in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, proceeded to explain to the unwashed the nature of the “underinsurance” problem. And what an explanation it is. The underinsured “have health benefits that don’t adequately cover their medical expenses.” Such coverage often is characterized by “high deductibles and co-payments, as well as exemptions for specific conditions or expensive treaments, or limit[s on] annual and lifetime benefits.”

So there we have it. “Underinsurance” means an allocation of risk between the insured and the pool (the insurer) that is not gold-plated from the viewpoint of the former. And the rather obvious increase in premiums needed to reduce the “underinsurance” problem? That discussion seems to have been left on the NPR/Kaiser cutting room floor, as the affordability of coverage clearly is a side issue not to be mentioned in polite society. The comedy highlight of the discussion is the assertion that “The increase in the underinsured is partly due to the fact that as health care and insurance costs have gone up, employers have bought policies with higher deductibles and co-payments and asking their workers to pay a greater share of the premiums.”

That is not a misquote. The underinsurance problem, you see, would diminish if only benefits were greater, deductibles and co-payments smaller, and health-care and insurance costs even higher than now is the case.

You just cannot make this stuff up.

Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.