In the health insurance industry, it’s routine to get calls from potential clients who are confused about the laws and regulations surrounding HIPAA, medical underwriting, rate increases, pre-existing condition exclusions, group vs. individual health insurance, etc. The system is complex, and urban legends abound (“but isn’t it illegal for a health insurance company to be able to decline someone?”). It would seem that the more educated people are about how our health insurance system works, the better equipped they are to protect themselves and their families. Obviously we need some changes in our health insurance and health care systems. But we also need to give people more information about health insurance – and insurance in general.
I’d love to see a class about insurance being taught to all American high schoolers as a requirement for graduation. The curriculum could be designed by state insurance commissioners – no marketing or propaganda from agents or health insurance carriers. We talk to clients in Colorado on a regular basis who aren’t aware that individual health insurance is medically underwritten. Since this is the case in 45 states, it’s not something you want to be finding out after you’ve already quite your job and lost your group benefits. Or after you’re already pregnant. People need to understand how policy rescissions work, what underwriting means, and that scruples and integrity vary widely from one agent to the next, and from one health insurance carrier to the next. An “intro to insurance” class would be a good start.