I read that the health care bill in the House (or maybe the Senate - it's a lot to stay up on) would only allow underwriting (defined by me as the charging of higher premiums or not offering coverage to certain customers based on their risk profile) for age, tobacco use and a very few other factors. So the long and the short of it seems like if you are an insurance company and want to be in the business of health insurance at all, you need to more or less charge everyone the same rate. To continue yesterday's comparison, you have to charge the teetotaler who's never had an accident or ticket in his/her life the same rate as the guy who gets in an accident every couple of months. Since tobacco use is so generally vilified, we will compare users to DUI people and say that you can still charge them through the nose.
As Baseline Scenario notes, this leaves it all down to marketing. Maybe this will be good for cycling teams, since at least in the US their audience would seem to be healthier people and marketing to healthier people would be a good thing. But then you will have some companies doing a good job of this, some companies doing a poor job of this, and then the companies which do a poor job will go away. That leaves the public to pay for the higher risk consumers.
So not only do we wind up paying enormous subsidies to produce enough corn syrup to give the entire world Type 2, we'll wind up with a public tab for the downstream consequences of same.
Don't worry, though, the corn and junk food lobbies are doing their best to prevent any taxation on the consumption of their products. Have you seen those ads with the concerned (and nominally attractive and very slim) soccer mom (with her two slim kids) unloading about 4 gallons of soda and bags of junk food, telling you about how these taxes are going to pack a wallop for her family's budget? MAYBE IF YOU PEOPLE DIDN'T PUT KOOL-AID AND SODA IN THEIR KIDS SIPPY CUPS, THEY'D AVOID THESE ONEROUS TAXES?!?!?!
So yes, Jim, my stance on this is libertarian. I don't think we should subsidize the production of shit, and I don't think we should dictate how private companies underwrite, and I don't think we should screw around with behavior based taxes and incentives. But if we are in the business of subsidizing shit, and we are getting into the business of mandated underwriting practices, then we should also be taxing behaviors with guaranteed bad outcomes. I'm libertarian by mindset but this is obviated by reality. We are encouraging bad behavior and socializing the penalties for them. I don't believe that the government should be influencing people's private behaviors, but I also believe that the consequences of bad behavior should be borne by those practicing them. We put all of these incentives out there for people to buy homes, and now we are bailing out banks and individuals. It just keeps getting better and better.
In even scarier news, I present a riddle: What's higher than 4 but lower than 2? I'm now a 3.