In his Feb. 6 letter, “Let individuals choose their insurance plans,” Martin Jones, like many other opponents of the Affordable Care Act, fails to understand the fundamental difference between making complicated consumer choices when selecting a health insurance plan and purchasing any other commodity or service.

Any insurance is the sharing of risk and works best the more people participate. If only sick people sign up for health insurance, risk becomes high across the board, and premiums increase. If there’s a good mix of healthy and sick people, the probability of risk is lower, and costs are lower.

Also, if many individuals were to select health insurance plans that meet their particular needs, as Mr. Jones proposes, to avoid some of that long list of “essential coverages,” or opt for short-term policies (with limited coverages), risk sharing is minimized and cost to all increases.

It is not whether “Americans are too dumb to select health insurance plans that meet their particular needs,” as Mr. Jones suggests Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Sara Gideon are implying by proposing a bill to preserve key ACA provisions here should Congress repeal it.

Rather, consumers are unaware of the value of the plan they choose, do not understand fundamental concept of insurance as a risk-sharing mechanism and determinant of cost to all or are short-sighted in assessing their particular health needs – current and future.

ACA policies are expensive not because of the coverage they include, but because of the number of Americans who are not covered. I do agree with Mr. Jones that our health care system is a mess, but recommend as a viable solution the approach touted by Maine AllCare in Phil Caper’s Feb. 2 Maine Voices column, “Medicare uniquely suited to facilitating health care for all Americans.”

George Szok


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