Personalizing solidarity? The role of self-tracking in health insurance pricing

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Abstract

Can data-driven innovations, working across an internet of connected things, personalize health insurance prices? The emergence of self-tracking technologies and their adoption and promotion in health insurance products has been characterized as a threat to solidaristic models of healthcare provision. If individual behaviour rather than group membership were to become the basis of risk assessment, the social, economic and political consequences would be far-reaching. It would disrupt the distributive, solidaristic character that is expressed within all health insurance schemes, even in those nominally designated as private or commercial. Personalized risk pricing is at odds with the infrastructures that presently define, regulate and deliver health insurance. Self-tracking can be readily imagined as an element in an ongoing bio-political redistribution of the burden of responsibility from the state to citizens but it is not clear that such a scenario could be delivered within existing individual private health insurance operational and regulatory infrastructures. In what can be gleaned from publicly available sources discussing pricing experience in the individual markets established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010 (ACA), widely known as ‘Obamacare’, it appears unlikely that it can provide the means to personalize price. Using the case of Oscar Health, a technology driven start-up trading in the ACA marketplaces, I explore the concepts, politics and infrastructures at work in health insurance markets.

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APA

McFall, L. (2019). Personalizing solidarity? The role of self-tracking in health insurance pricing. Economy and Society, 48(1), 52–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/03085147.2019.1570707

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