How consumers can compare health insurance policies

By Tom Quiner

A headline in the morning’s Des Moines Register’s Metro section read:  “System for comparing health policies still stalled.”

As you recall, Obamacare calls for the establishment of “insurance Exchanges” to facilitate consumers’ ability to shop for the right product.

States can set up their own online Exchange. If they don’t do it, the Feds will come in and do it themselves.

Have you ever stopped to think about the proliferation of insurance “exchanges” in the car insurance industry?

Geico and Progressive advertise nightly on channel after channel how they help consumers shop for the right policy. Essentially, they offer an insurance Exchange. They do the shopping for you.  You can buy their product … or their competitor’s.

The marketplace is much freer for consumers of car insurance products. Health insurance is rigidly controlled. Consumers can’t shop across state lines. They have to buy products with state-imposed mandates for coverage they may not want, need, or can afford.

The Iowa legislature is wrangling over a bill to establish an Exchange here in Iowa. They are at an impasse.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier and so much more effective to simply get the government out of the business of health insurance?

Just look to the car insurance industry where rates have remained competitive forever. The marketplace is much more efficient than Big Government.


  1. maxine bechtel on May 17, 2011 at 8:51 am


  2. Monte B. Gray on May 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Now let me think in regards to what has been written!

    ….”Wouldn’t it be so much easier and so much more effective to simply get the government out of the business of health insurance?” then the response then is

    maxine bechtel (08:51:34) :


    Reply : So I presume this includes getting out of medicare and putting everyone, including the elderly and retirees, at the mercy of obtaining private healthcare!

    My wife and I are in pretty good health, so by this reasoning we would benefit from this! I feel bad for those elderly though with existing health problems who are thrown at the mercy of private health! But if it’s free market insurance that everyone wants…. then,


    • quinersdiner on May 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

      You presume incorrectly.

      Privatizing Medicare is certainly worthy of discussion. But even if Medicare is retained in a somewhat comparable form, that doesn’t mean that we can’t turn to the marketplace to provide more competitive solutions for the rest of yokels. If we we want more choice in health insurance options, government intervention needs to be reduced. Right now, Iowans have but a few legitimate options when purchasing health insurance, and one of them Principal, got out of the business when Obamacare passed.

  3. Monte B. Gray on May 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    You truly think the insurance companies care about being competitive?
    In regards to competition between car insurance companies…does’nt exist. Periodically I’ll get an ad from one that promises to save me hundreds of dollars. But when I call, since I’m a safe driver who’s not had a ticket in the last 30 years, I find they can’t save me a cent. That’s in regards to Progressive who’s
    “always advertising” on tv, and I presently use Geico! Thats not competition, thats some actuary scientist who’d told the insurance company what they can charge!

    This countries “competition” is run by companies that become bigger and bigger so as to monopolize the business they run. If Principal got out of the insurance business it was because they could’nt compete with the behomoth of Blue Cross/Blue Shield!

    How long does the average low cost air line operate before they get pushed out by the bigger airlines.

    Do you truly believe gas prices are going up due to competition! Demand is down yet prices go up!

    If you want to change this situation vote for a politician who refuses PAC money
    and will decide whats best for the country depending on the common voters
    who put him into office, vs the companies that buy their vote! But good luck in finding one of those!

    • quinersdiner on May 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Do I think insurance companies care about being competitive? The answer is obvious. It is yes when government stays out of it. Car insurance companies would not waste their money on advertising if it wasn’t necessary to be competitive. Most drivers don’t have a record as good as yours’. Products and rates deviate a great deal for those folks. It pays for them to shop, and the likes of Geico and Progressive make it easy without a “government exchange.” On the other hand, health insurance companies advertise very little, and they never advertise low rates because the government artificially restricts the amount of competition by preventing consumers from buying from out of state insurers. Should that law change, watch them become more competitive overnight.