What are those charges…

I’m a bureaucrat at a health insurance company which most of you have never and will never hear about. My job is to be a subject matter expert on a fairly arcane set of knowledge. I have seen some posts and some great comment threads at Balloon Juice where great questions are being asked and basic mechanical knowledge would be very useful. I will be writing a series of posts over the next couple of weeks/months that attempts to explain why a profit seeking insurance company does what it does.

And yes, before I get started, I agree with the vast majority of the commenteriat here that absent massive path dependency and being able to make policy behind a veil of ignorance, I would not choose the US model or the modifications to the model that are being made by Obamacare. I would have chosen a far more comprehensive single payer system that is not a kludge of multiple previous kludges. However, that is not the world that we live in, so I am assuming profit seeking insurance companies will be around for a while.

Why do insurance companies charge deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance?  What is the point of three forms of making the buyer of insurance pay?  Why wouldn’t there be a single form?  What are the incentives and how do the different cost share payments save the insurance company money? Read more