Do Health Insurance Premiums Go Down Over Time?

Well, my friends, sorry to burst this bubble for you, but, no.

Many people labor under this common misconception, most likely because that’s the way it often works with auto insurance: the longer you drive with them and have a good record, the lower your premiums will be upon renewal of your policy every year or so. The reason behind this is because the company has a solid period of time where you have demonstrated that you’re not a high-risk driver. Customer loyalty and all that. Health insurance doesn’t operate the same way, unfortunately.

Health insurance is based on risk, too, but medical risk isn’t evaluated the same way as auto insurance risk, in many ways. With health insurance, if you go for years without using the insurance for anything other than routine stuff, even if you have good health and always make your premium payments on time, your policy will generally do nothing but get more expensive, due to inflation, increases in medical costs, and other factors. Why?

Because the body is like a car, it is a complex organic machine, but insurance treats the body machine very different than it does the mechanical one. As cars get older they get cheaper to fix and easier to replace; also, as you age as a driver, hopefully you get better, have more experience, and get into fewer accidents. Human bodies, conversely,  get more expensive and complicated the more they age; even though we might get wiser, there’s no wisdom discount in health insurance. It’s a biological fact that as you age, your body starts to experience problems it never had before. And so far, we can’t just hop into the car and go down to Home Depot and pick up a new liver or set of lungs, and even though they say Botox is a fountain of youth for your face, there’s nothing yet invented that stops the progress of time elsewhere.

So health insurers calculate this into their coverage. Even if you’ve been a faithful client of Thus-and-Such Insurance, Inc., for years, your policy only goes up in cost, and frequently down in terms of coverage. No loyalty discount. Even if you make positive changes in your life, such as stopping smoking and losing weight, you won’t get any policy reduction unless you’ve maintained those conditions for a minimum of a year straight—and even then, they only adjust prices if you take out a new policy. Sometimes it’s smart to change carriers in those cases, but watch out for pre-existing conditions, until the new health care reforms go into effect. You see, insurers expect for people to be healthy non-smokers, and they penalize those who aren’t. They don’t reward you for being what they consider to be the way you’re supposed to be.

Don’t let this pessimistic view of things put you off from making those positive changes in your life, though, because besides the potential benefits to your health insurance premiums, it’ll help you in the long run by prolonging your life and increasing the quality thereof. Just don’t expect to be rewarded by an insurance company for doing it!

So there is the answer, succinctly: nope. Policies lately are only going up, up, up, and even though Obama promises they’ll go down, we have yet to see that trend yet. Give things some time, you never know what can be down the road.