Why Don't People Buy Insurance?, Ctd

by Patrick Appel

A few readers have taken issue with this post where I linked to Jonah Lehrer's discussion of the cognitive biases at work in the health insurance market. I didn't mean to imply that these were the only reasons that people don't buy insurance, cost and pre-existing condition rejection are big factors, but the issues Jonah raises are relevant when discussing one silver of the uninsured. A typical response:

I think Jonah Lehrer may be correct that some people don't buy health insurance for the reasons he states.  But there are many other reasons that people do not buy health insurance. I do have health insurance that I buy as an individual.  No group policy. If I had diabetes, that pre-existing condition would not be covered nor anything the insurance company decided was related to diabetes, which could be almost anything. My insurance premium would also be sky high even though that condition was not covered. In my state, it is highly unlikely I could find an insurer to sell me a policy. My husband was denied coverage even though perfectly healthy and NO pre-existing conditions. So getting a policy is not as easy as he may think.

Another reader:

I'm wonder if Jonah would shell out $90K for a cochlear implant. It's my heart's desire but my deafness is a pre-existing condition that *no* insurance company will cover short of a several thousand dollar monthly premium. I'm otherwise completely healthy and an implant would put me back in the work force for the first time in eighteen years. How do you buy insurance when you don't have a job? I'm not old enough for Medicare and I've been denied SSI **twice** on the premise that I'm able to work.  How do you get a job that doesn't require the ability to hear? After handing out 170 resumes over the past decade, all I know is that once an employer knows you may have two college degrees but you can't answer the goddamn phone.