Finally, the health insurance reform debate has graduated from fictitious death panels to something that really matters: Should we have a public option that can compete with the public plan? I think so.
One of the massive problems we face are escalating health insurance premium. Ours went from $450 four years ago to $1000 now. That's per person per month. We can't afford premiums that double every four years. That's as big a reason to reform the system as any.
A public plan would have lower administrative costs because it wouldn't pay fat cat bonuses, and it wouldn't spend so much time trying to figure out what care it could deny. We know this from the Medicare experience.
Co-ops don't get us there, I think. Just setting up health care coops -- groups that form a nonprofit to provide care within a network of doctors, hospitals, etc. -- is too difficult, too cumbersome, and is likely to trap people in small networks. Those of us who need to see a doctor outside of the coop will be out of luck. Coops won't really compete with private insurance because they will be unattractive to most people.
Bob Herbert in today's NY Times is right when he says there's a problem when the health insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers are happy with the reform we're headed towards. No way to force down insurance costs, no way to negotiate drug discounts for Medicare -- they're getting off scott free, to continue to do what they've been doing all along -- milking the system without having to change their ways one bit.
Indeed, health insurers will get millions of healthy individuals who are required to enroll, while not giving up a single thing.
A public option changes this dynamic. It is the only way consumers can really win. It will drive down the cost of premiums so the private plans can compete with the public plans. There's simply no other way to get there.
If you agree, please speak up. Jennifer