In a nut shell the idea behind the public option is that people who have a tough time getting inexpensive insurance (ie small business owners, independent contractors, self-employed, etc.) can buy insurance in a marketplace overseen by the government. Because that represents over 47 million Americans they should be able to get rates as reasonable as large corporations get for their employees. In order to sell insurance in this market place insurance companies would need to follow certain rules set by government legislation. The insurance vendors selling in this marketplace could be for-profit, non-profit, or government run. Companies like the idea of the marketplace because it means more customers and more money, especially if all Americans are required to have health insurance. They do not like the idea of the government offering coverage in that marketplace. They think the competition would be unfair due to vast government resources. It is a fact that government run health care (Medicare, the VA, etc) spends significantly less money on administrative costs than private industry. It is also a fact that wait times in public institutions is obscene. In my opinion, most people would probably pay more money for a private insurance experience, but not hundreds of dollars per month more. So, having the option of public health care coverage, with bare bones costs, would probably provide something like the post office in terms of service, as opposed to UPS and Fed Ex which are more convenient and accessible, but significantly more costly as well. Imagine how much UPS and Fed Ex would charge if there was no other option. That is what’s happening with health insurance now. when I think of he public option I consider it akin to a 99 cent store. Yes people shop there, yes it is less expensive, but it is a shopping experience many people pay much higher prices to avoid. However, for people who are down on their luck, with extrememly limited finances, the 99 cent store is a fantastic resource. Furthermore, 99 cent stores seem to offer little competition to grocery chains. Most self-insured people, myself included, are now paying Whole Foods prices, but getting 99 cent store services. Having a marketplace with a wide range of options will give Americans a chance to get the services they pay for.
Filed under: General Medicine