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If Cars Were Sold Like Health Insurance

This commentary aired on Marketplace Radio, October 26, 1999.

Some people say the cure for rising health care costs is not more government control or regulation, but rather free market competition. Free-marketeers say informed consumers could buy health coverage just like they buy a car.
Commentator Andrew Holtz offers a vision of the flip-side of that equation. Picture if you will, buying a car just like you buy health care coverage.

 (Telephone rings)

Hello. HCB – Qualtrans Cars. “We care about where you're going.” Ed here. How can I be of service?

So you'd like to buy a car? Well ya called the right place.
Let me tell you about our three most popular models:
- There's the “reliant”: it'll get you where you need to go, subject to terms of the lease,
- Then we've got my favorite, the “99-special”: it's fast, handles like a dream, fully loaded with options… of course, you’d have to pass a special driver exam.
- And the state mandates that we offer you the “bus pass”: it's the least expensive, but certainly not as convenient.

 Uh-huh, uh-huh, hmmm.
You want to test drive a car?
Well, I'm afraid that's not really possible. You see, you have to choose a model before you need to go anywhere; otherwise you may be subject to pre-existing mileage restrictions.
Now rest assured, you can always trade it in once a year during the “open leasing” period.

Uh-huh uh-huh…
How much do the models cost?
Oh, that depends on your driving habits over the past five years… and the driving histories of your parents and other relatives. We'll also need to see your license records, gas station receipts and other documentation. Then a registered driving examiner will visit you, at your convenience, to test your reflexes, eyesight, and knowledge of the motor vehicle code.

Uh-huh, uh-huh…
Will our cars get you where you’re going?
At HCB – Qualtrans Cars,
“We care about your transportation needs.”
That's why you can drive our cars on just about any road you really need to drive on. Once you choose a model and mileage plan, we'll give you a map showing our preferred routes.
Of course, the map may be re-drawn at any time.
So, other than pre-approved trips to work, school or your designated grocery store… before you leave the garage, be sure to call our toll-free trip authorization center.

 (audio fades down and out toward the end of this graph.)
What if you get a flat? Oh, you mean the roadside breakdown policies?
Well, that's very unlikely, but if it happened, all you have to do is write a letter to the driver service office, and they will respond with the proper forms for you to fill out, and after you've done that, if you are still on the side of the road, you send the completed forms with supporting documentation to the office of driver service response forms processing, where an authorized representative will review the facts of your case and make a determination of the proper course of action and notify you within the time period specified in your contract blah blah blah…………………………………..
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