Health reform without a public option is incomplete reform. A public option will increase choice and reduce costs.
Opponents of a public option cite the superiority of a free market over “government” intrusion. The problem is that 94 percent of the country’s insurance markets are defined as “highly concentrated.” A public option would increase competition and create a free market where there is not one currently. Because of this, a public option will play an important role in bringing down costs (even George Will agrees the public option reduces costs).
The public option should not receive any taxpayer subsidy that is not available to private plans.
There needs to be elements in place that prevent private insurance companies from skimming off the healthy and leaving the less healthy for the public plan.
I’ve seen the argument against the public option that it will put private insurance companies out of business. If the public option does not receive any subsidy not available to private insurance plans, then this should not be an issue. In fact, a common theme of conservatives is the efficiency of the private sector and the inefficiency of the government sector, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
Which brings us to the argument that the public option will become a huge inefficient government bureaucracy. If it does, then it would be expensive and people would buy coverage from private plans.
I keep hearing that such a plan would put a government bureaucrat between me and my doctor. There’s already an insurance bureaucrat between me and my doctor (and that hasn’t always been so pleasant a situation!).
Finally, there is evidence that people with Medicare and Medicaid are happier with those programs than people with private insurance are with those plans. (Hat tip TPMDC) And there is polling evidence that most Americans want a public option.
The public option is wanted and needed. Write your Congressperson and Senators.