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By Dominique Donaho

UnitedHealth Group is now offering a recession special:  the right to buy insurance… later.  For 20% of the regular premium rate, you can lock in your eligibility to a plan, even if you eventually become sick.

Critics of the “UnitedHealth Continuity” have a few quibbles.  For one, the individual who purchases this type of plan is “betting against health reform.”  If the Obama administration is serious about offering widespread health care, even to the sick, the Continuity plan may become irrelevant.  The real question is at what point health care would become universally accessible, and whether the individual wants to hedge against it until then.

The other big problem is the risk of adverse selection.  The Continuity plan, which accepts healthy individuals, is very attractive to people who “plan on” receiving a terrible diagnosis in the near future.  While these individuals would see their premiums increase in correlation with their higher risk of insurability, these individuals would at least find themselves eligible for coverage.

For those who see bleak employment futures, they may want to consider the more expensive COBRA instead of the Continuity plan.

It seems that UnitedHealth’s offer would most appeal to individuals who do not have access to insurance and do not plan on later gaining access but do worry about becoming uninsurably sick.

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