United Health Group announced in this article it is selling an option for insurance in the future.
The main summary of the New York Times article is:
An average individual plan premium is $200 per person so for $40 per month or $480 per year, you have the option to be able to purchase individual insurance whenever you want regardless of your health or lack of health at the time. You of course have to be healthy enough to pass the health screen that you fill out but for people who like the idea of insurance, you can have the knowledge that you can always buy health insurance for the price of a gym membership.
The product, called UnitedHealth Continuity, is intended for people who currently have insurance but are concerned they might lose coverage -- because they lost their job or retire early -- and might not be able to obtain other coverage.Enrollees in Continuity will pay 20% of the current premium on an individual policy monthly to reserve insurance under that policy for the future, according to the Times.
The article later pointed out that purchasers of this type of option probably don't think that health care reform will come anytime within the next few years. If health care reform does come than United will never have to pay out on this option. It doesn't help people who can't get individual insurance now but it does fill a niche by letting people buy an insurance policy that lets them buy an insurance policy.
From a product portfolio perspective, I have to grudgingly give United a lot of credit for coming up with a product that fills a gaping need and will probably be a winner financially. From a value creation perspective, they basically copied the idea of selling licenses to be able to buy season tickets from the sports world. That may be why the New York Times is lukewarm to the whole idea and feels that people may be overinsuring themselves and it's not worth the money. But given the desire for some to always be able to purchase health insurance, it fills a clear market need.