I’m almost 51 years old. I don’t smoke. My weight’s OK, although it could be better. I run, badly. I’ll give myself a B or a B-plus in the personal-health department. So why should I have to pay higher medical-insurance rates to cover people too lazy to get off their rear ends or too undisciplined to quit smoking?
Because the whole point of insurance is to spread the risk so that those who need less will help pay for those who need more. Which is why I predict that Gov. Deval Patrick’s experiment in auto-insurance competition will end badly, just as it did 30 years ago when Michael Dukakis tried it.
The Outraged Liberal says he’s “tired of subsidizing bad drivers.” Well, he’s going to develop chronic fatigue syndrome once he has to start subsidizing bad drivers who are now unemployed because they can’t afford auto insurance and can no longer get to work.
The ideal insurance system would reward good drivers while at the same time not penalizing the bad ones so excessively that they’re forced off the roads — or forced to drive without insurance as a matter of economic survival. Guess what? The system we have today looks an awful lot like that ideal.
A Globe editorial today puts it well:
In Massachusetts, about 80 percent of drivers pay a little more so that 20 percent of drivers can pay a lot less. That subsidy is a significant reason that Massachusetts has the second-lowest rate of uninsured motorists in the nation. It would be a shame, and a potentially costly one for all insured motorists, to see that rate rise.
I’ll admit that I’ve got two self-interested reasons for wanting to keep things the way they are. First, I’m not such a great driver, although I’m better than I used to be — the last surcharge, for a speeding ticket I incurred in New Hampshire six years ago, is scheduled to come off my insurance in August. Second, I’ve got two kids, and insurance for teenage drivers — already excessive — will likely go through the roof when this “reform” takes hold.
I realize that Massachusetts is the only state that regulates auto insurance so tightly. But rates are affordable, and they’ve been going down. Deregulation is a non-solution in search of a problem.