March 9th, 2009
11:01 AM ET

A time for tontines

Program Note: For our special coverage with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on health care tune in to AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/07/young.uninsured/art.breeweightroom.cnn.jpg caption="Bree Honey, of Maryland, is just one of many young Americans going without health insurance."]
Tom Baker and Peter Siegelman
The New York Times

Many young Americans don’t have health insurance, and not necessarily because they can’t afford it. Some just don’t want to invest good money in health care that they may never need. This creates tremendous burdens for the individuals who do end up having medical problems, as well as for the taxpayers who cover their visits to the emergency room. Around a third of all uninsured adults below retirement age in the United States are 19 to 29 years old. How can we get insurance to reach these young “invincibles”?

Creating universal health insurance or forcing businesses to insure their employees’ grown children are costly solutions. Much better would be to design a product that these young invincibles would be willing to pay for. We suggest an old solution: the tontine, which is health insurance that pays a cash bonus to those who are ultimately right in their belief that they did not really need insurance.


Filed under: Health Care
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Isabel, Brazil

    I confess that I was lost with the concept of tontine. I read the blog post, I read the article in the NYT and I search on the Wiki, but the ideas don't concatenating in my head.

    Excuse me, but how is that?
    I was lost ...

    Here in Brazil, up to 60 years, the value of health insurance is lower, the adjustments in these figures are annual, usually in the month of the birthday person (must be a gift ... lol) and when the person uses, a minimum, in the year, receives a percentage discount.
    In the last two years, I have noticed that younger and lower-class people have adhered, which is very good.

    But in my view, the health insurance is like the car insurance. It is money spent on something invisible, is something nobody wants to use, but only when it is necessary that citizen understands its real utilizadade.
    In the midst of a bad situation, who has health insurance gives value.

    March 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Stan Brody

    ANY health care plan that doesn't include medical malpractice tort reform is worthless... all too often doctor's order tests that they believe to be needless simply to avoid the attorney standing outside his office door... we are constantly being pounded by the law firm commercials attempting to drum up lucrative (for them) class action suites... and don't for one minute believe that we don't all have the distinct honor of paying for this get rich quick litigation...

    Depending on location, an OB-GYN physician, can easily expect to pay
    6 figures...

    March 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  3. Cindy

    So..you want to give everyone free insurance then turn around and pay them also for not using it? UMM..where is all of this money going to come from to pay out to them? Taxing the rich only won't nearly cover it.

    I don't see this happening since it calls for very low co-pay and all. I mean insurance companies are out to make money for themselves. They truly could give a rats ...butt...about their policy holders. To think that they are going to roll over for Obama and lose money is crazy. They'll fight this health care reform every step of the way.


    March 9, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    There is a phase of life where we consider oursevles "invincible or somehwhat immortal-–but like life itself–the reality of aging and getting sick dominates--reward the healthy while they are invincible or immortal-there has to be something else more suitable for health care.

    March 9, 2009 at 11:10 am |