In the Weekly Standard, Eli Lehrer takes a stab at the problems with America's healthcare system in a novel way: by comparing human health insurance with the insurance market offered for pets and animals:
The contrast is instructive. The market for pet health insurance is a competitive one that offers many popular, desirable policy features—including many that politicians want to impose on the human health insurance industry. But it’s not perfect. A detailed look at the market, the least regulated broad health benefits system in the country, suggests it would be impossible for the human health insurance system to simultaneously do everything people say they desire, contain costs, and follow purely market principles. This isn’t a reason for free market health care reformers to despair but, rather, a cause for them to be careful about what they promise.
The positive aspects of the pet insurance market aren’t trivial. For starters, it offers far more choices. Only 3 companies market individual health insurance in New Jersey, while at least 10 write policies for dogs and cats. And the pet insurance carriers offer plans with benefits to fit any budget. Almost all pet insurance policies provide the same coverage at any hospital or vet, whereas almost all human health policies have no or limited benefits for “out of network” care. While people over 50 can have a very difficult time finding individual health insurance at any price, coverage for older dogs and exotic breeds isn’t a problem since several companies will write a policy for any dog or cat of any age. And many of the features politicians have felt themselves compelled to mandate in health insurance plans are provided by pet carriers as a matter of course. Even very cheap policies often throw in some “wellness” coverage that discounts routine tests and checkups. And the pricing schemes are also more attractive than those in the private individual health market. Although pet insurance premiums rise yearly as individual pets age and veterinary costs go up, many pet insurers don’t increase them on the basis of claims history, and most promise never to drop coverage no matter how sick a pet gets.
Given that we are already talking about how both Romney and Obama treat their dogs, we might as well take this opportunity to discuss why Seamus and Bo have more flexibility in getting health insurance plans that are right for them.