The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

What about the Public Option?

Nov 9, 2009

Even if the “public option” were to make its way back into the bill – which might be done in order to “sell” the bill – the Congressional Budget Office estimated that less than 5% of those without insurance would be able to qualify for it.

Two researchers well-known in the field, Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, professors of medicine at Harvard, explained why the so-called public option would do nothing to alleviate the problems so long as private insurance controls the field. They explain it this way:

“A public plan might cut private insurers’ profits, which is why they hate it. But their profits account for only 3% of the money squandered on bureaucracy.

Far more goes for marketing (to attract healthy, profitable members). And tens of billions are spent on the armies of insurance administrators who fight over payment and their counterparts at hospitals and doctors offices. All of these would be retained with a public plan option.

Unfortunately, competition in health insurance involves a race to the bottom. Insurers compete by not paying for care: by denying payment and shifting costs onto patients or other payers. These bad behaviors confer a decisive competitive advantage.

A public plan option would either emulate them – becoming a clone of private insurance – or go under.