Should Smokers Pay Higher Health Premiums?
Radley Balko‘s alter ego “Randy” argues that they should in an AJC op-ed.
Auto and life insurance companies regularly vary premiums with risk. If you have a poor driving record, drive a sports car, or live in a high-theft area, you’re going to pay more for your car insurance than most.
There’s no reason why health insurance shouldn’t operate the same way. This is particularly true with state-issued health plans, where not only do you have the problem of subsidizing and fostering poor decisions, but the burden of those poor decisions then falls on taxpayers.
The question becomes, who should pay the health care costs of a state worker who chooses to smoke, then gets sick as the result of that decision: the person who chooses to smoke, or Georgia taxpayers? I have a hunch what most Georgia taxpayers would prefer.
Quite right. If we’re going to make health care a “right,” then we should socialize it. If we’re going to maintain a private system, though, insurers ought to be able to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions and risky behavior on the part of their customers. Indeed, amortizing risk pretty much defines “insurance.”