I do a lot of back road and highway driving, so windshield repair and replacement are things I deal with fairly frequently. I’ve generally always just paid for these repairs out of pocket. It is a field where if one shops around, there are a lot of good deals. However, for a while I lived in a state that had a law that said all auto insurance must have windshield replacement coverage.
The effect on my behavior was dramatic. When living there, I didn’t even think about shopping around for a windshield repair. I just had the dealer do it (surely the high cost supplier) when I had the car in for regular service. I didn’t care what the cost was, it was covered in my policy. (Ironically, it turns out in retrospect that I should have shopped around — because no one else in the state cared about cost, all the windshield suppliers jacked up their prices and then competed by offering kickbacks in various forms to consumers, basically competing on how much of the insurance money they would share with the car owner. Truly dysfunctional.)
I shudder to think how much the Infiniti store would charge me for new glass for Gwendolyn. The only reference I have at hand is contained in a TSB which governs whether a windshield issue is covered by the factory warranty: it calls for 2.3 hours of labor on Nissan’s Official Form. The only windshield I ever replaced, though, was Sandy’s; I took her (a Mazda 626) to an independent glass shop, never mentioned the insurance, and paid well under $200. My policy in fact would cover glass replacement without regard to my deductible, but I reasoned that the less they knew, the less likely they would be to jack up my premia.
Does this sort of thing work for health care? Maybe, maybe not:
I have always wondered why insurance companies didn’t create some incentive for shopping. If I were running such a company, I would be tempted to tell customers — “our reimbursement rate for CT scans in your area is X. If you get it done for less than X, we will split the savings with you 50/50.” Though I suppose the danger is that this could morph into a variation of the windshield kickback system.
Maybe they’re not allowed to? There are an awful lot of state laws governing the actions of insurance companies, and, as the President himself has noted, we have rather a lot of states.