Democrats & Liberals Archives

Do We Need the Public Option?

Previously I said that a strong Insurance Exchange System with tough regulations is a better way to encourage healthcare competition than the use of a “public option.” I still do. But now that I find out that the “public option” will reduce cost and make insurance premiums more affordable, I am jumping back onto the “public option” bandwagon.

Conservatives and so-called Centrists have been fuming about how much money healthcare reform would cost. But now the Congressional Budget Office says that healthcare will cost less if it includes the "public option":

The National Journal is reporting that the CBO determined the robust public option favored by progressives would save the government $110 billion. A weaker “level playing field” public option would only save $25 billion.

Notice that the CBO says that "the more robust plan favored by progressives" would save more money than the flimsy version. So a rational Centrist who wants to save money should be for a robust "public option." Why are not the Centrists in favor? Could it have something to do with keeping their chief campaign contributors happy?

Are Centrists more concerned with getting reelected than with helping the public?

The same report tells us that the "public option" would make premiums more affordable for the Middle Class:

The CBO also reported that, “on average the [robust] public plan would be about 10 percent cheaper than a typical private plan.” For a family the robust public option would be roughly $1,300 cheaper in yearly premiums. (This year the average premiums for a family coverage is $13,375).

$1,300 is nothing to sneeze at. If the program is properly managed - and we prevent lobbyists from inserting huge loopholes - I'm sure there would be a lot more savings in future years.

If we want a decent healthcare system, we must have a robust Insurance Exchange System and a "public option."

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 27, 2009 6:03 PM
Comment #288547

In one word “NO”. We do need reform but not a government run option. We have medicare and medicade. FIX THEM.

Posted by: KAP at September 27, 2009 7:33 PM
Comment #288548

The public option is a way of setting up government-run health care to fail, since it will be an insurance pool of people who are either uninsurable due to the cost of their existing conditions and people who cannot afford it in the first place. It is possible to set up a public option that functions successfully, but I suspect by the time the health insurance lobbysists finish with it, through the Blue Dog Democrats and the usual unthinking lockstep unanimity of brain dead GOP conservatives, it will not be a pleasant thing to behold for anyone except health care corporations.

Expand medicare to cover everyone. It’s that easy.

Posted by: phx8 at September 27, 2009 7:56 PM
Comment #288551

Paul: since nobody agrees on numbers, and they are probably inflated or deflated based on political affiliation, may I suggest that the most pertinent message in your post was the following: “If the program is properly managed - and we prevent lobbyists from inserting huge loopholes - I’m sure there would be a lot more savings in future years.”

I’m just wondering how big I can make the IF without recourse to HTML I don’t even pretend to understand. I’m thinking at least 36 point. Probably 48.

The truth is that we might, if we’re lucky, if we’re just really, really lucky, get a public option. But the idea of it lacking loopholes inserted by lobbyists (and I include politicians who take money from “healthcare” companies, both R&D) is just wishful thinking. Whatever the public option eventually looks like, it will still be stuffed with ways for these people to make more money.

As for the savings - well, a public option might save the healthcare giants who are currently raping the economy, but I’m not sure it will save any money. See above.

It would be nice, though, wouldn’t it? To have a workable public option that wasn’t overseen by the very people who have gotten fat off the current system?

Nah, that’s just ridiculous…

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at September 27, 2009 9:18 PM
Comment #288556

If you read that report in the National Journal, you can’t help but notice this very big red flag about these so-called CBO estimates.

The numbers are based on oral communications between CBO staff and Pelosi’s office, a Pelosi spokesman said. They do not represent an official CBO estimate.

Unofficial oral communications between unnamed staffers and Nancy Pelosi? As reported by Nancy Pelosi? I’m sorry, but we’ll all need something a bit more reliable than that.

We also need to be very cautious when we hear somebody talk about “savings” in these contexts. When we’re offered giant and hugely expensive government plans, and then somebody suggests a change in these plans that will result in “savings,” we have to ask: savings over what?

If a robber at first plans to steal $100 from you but then only steals $50, that leftover $50 shouldn’t really be considered money saved. It would better still if he didn’t steal anything.

Posted by: Paul at September 28, 2009 12:05 AM
Comment #288559

Why I agree that a Public Option would help reduce costs, I do believe that like National Flood Insurance a better use of the Taxpayers Dollar would be to create a National Medical Insurance to cover those expenses that exceed a Basic Health Insurance Policy.

For why I don’t understand why people can’t see that they are one step away from an Illness, Injury, or Natural Disaster. Like the Home Insurances had to learn from storms like Andrew and Katrina, what will happen to the Health Insurane Companies the next time wide spread sickness overwhelms their ability to cover the medical bills of their policy holders?

Care to tell me the numbers if 30% of Blue Shield/ Blue Cross had medical expenes in excess of $500,000.00 due to something like the Swine Flu?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 28, 2009 3:07 AM
Comment #288566

What is going ignored by the right is the fact that we are already paying for indigent medical care at the emergency rooms this includes your hated illegal immigrants. Getting these people into a system that will help address their health issues before they become very expensive emergency room care.

What is the worst of all worlds is that bogus insurance company whore, Max Baucus’ bill that would force people to buy insurance from the criminals who have screwed up the system we have. That’s a bad deal.

Only a strong public option, available to anyone, will keep these criminals in line. If they can’t compete against it they go out of business. If the government can’t do anything well as those on the right assert, then the big insurance companies should have nothing to worry about.

Posted by: tcsned at September 28, 2009 7:51 AM
Comment #288585

Published in the medical journal LANCET ONCOLOGY…

Survival rate for all cancer patients for Americans, 66.3% for men and 63.9% for women.

Survival rate for all cancer patients for Europeans,
47.3% for men and 55.9% for women.

Survival rate for prostate cancer for American men…99%.

Survival rate for prostate cancer for European men…77.5%.

Survival rate for colon/rectal cancer for Americans…65.5%.

Survival rate for colon/rectal cancer for Europeans…56.2%.

Survival rate for breast cancer patients for Americans…90.1%.

Survival rate for breast cancer patients for Europeans…79%.

And that’s just the statistics on cancer. I could also site the better outcomes for Americans over Europeans on heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many other common health conditions.

Is it any wonder that in recent numerous polls overwhelming numbers of Americans like and wish to keep their current health care?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 28, 2009 3:46 PM
Comment #288591

We don’t need another government run plan, We need to fix what we have instead of creating more government programs. The problem is getting the indidgent on medicade and the elderly who are qualified for medicare. Do that and everyone would have some type of medical care.

Posted by: KAP at September 28, 2009 4:14 PM
Comment #288594

Royal Flush,

It might be a good idea to read the entire Lancet article instead of throwing out numbers without context

Alternate Link

Also, I’ve read that mortality rates are a much better statistic than survival rates because they include only deaths from that particular illness rather than deaths from something else. Also, using mortality rates doesn’t reward a false positive diagnosis like using survival rates does.

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 28, 2009 5:49 PM
Comment #288595

Royal Flush

Well, there you go. Introducing real statistics and showing the results of a government run healthcare program. Way to ruin a perfectly good liberal post.

Posted by: beretta9 at September 28, 2009 5:53 PM
Comment #288596

Royal Flush

PS. and you did it in so few words. I’m not mentioning any names, but this will require a thesis, by some, to be written to disqualify your stats.

Posted by: beretta9 at September 28, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #288597

Warped…thank you for your comments. Post your statistics from a reliable source and I will read them. It appears that most Americans prefer the health care they now have. Can you dispute that?

Here are some more statistics that you can chew on.

The US has 27 MRI machines per million Americans

Canada and Britain have six MRI machines per million

The US has 34 CT scanners per million

Canada has 12 per million and Britain only 8

If you want to survive catastrophic illnesses you need to live in the United States. America’s health care system provides earlier detection, better treatment options, and more potent drug protocols than are available elsewhere.

Ask yourself Warped, if money were no problem, and you needed health care, where would you go?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 28, 2009 6:24 PM
Comment #288599

Flush - no one is denigrating the American doctors just the way it gets paid for. The current system is hopelessly broken, unfair, and immoral. While we have the best doctors we have the worst system to pay these doctors. Do these people who survive these horrible illnesses deserve to be bankrupt for their trouble? Well, it is likely. 60% of our bankruptcies are due to catastrophic health issues.

KAP - how do you propose to deal with insurance companies with no mediation process that doesn’t rely on the insurance company itself as the arbiter in a dispute? How do you fix pre-existing condition denials? How do you cover people with very expensive conditions without being dropped or having their rates go through the roof? How do you put some real competition in this market that currently has none? It is totally monopolistic. The problem is the options being offered up by the right are just status quo. Status quo isn’t going to cut it. Neither will that stupid Baucus plan trying to force me to buy crappy insurance from a company that will leave me high and dry the first time I get seriously sick. If the “free market” is so awesome it will kill the public plan because it will provide better service for a better price.

Another question, what did the GOP do with the White House and Congress for 8 years? Absolutely nothing. Or, rather, worse than nothing - they handed the keys to our bank accounts over to these insurance company monopolies and did nothing while peoples’ lives were financially ruined. If the right wanted to do something about the issue they had their chance and the lost it. Now it’s time for someone else to make the call. They haven’t done a single constructive thing since Obama came into the White House other than spread fear and lies. Why anyone should listen to the right on this issue is beyond me.

It looks like we are going to have a public option like it or not. All but the Baucus plan has it now and the final bill will have a public option in it. The right refused to compromise turning the health care debate into an attempt to take down Obama politically and they are going to lose. The public option is a compromise - as we progressives want single-payer, not-for-profit and you on the right wanted the status quo.

It will be really funny to see in next 20 years how many of these republicans who were screaming fascism and socialism at Obama will be defending the public option just as those that said the same thing about medicare in the 60s did.

Posted by: tcsned at September 28, 2009 7:00 PM
Comment #288600

I think it’s quite clear that the profit motive by itself, is diametrically opposed to the Hippocratic oath. In that light, we all understand that some government regulation will be needed to prevent abuses because nothing else will, but past a certain point we cannot expect private insurance companies to provide real savings to American consumers unless there is a competitor out there who could steal their customers if they don’t.

Your level playing field will still be there if the public option must be self sufficient.

Past all that, the right is trying to argue that the post office and Fedex and UPS can’t exist together, which we all know ain’t true.

I think that if the right believes in preserving everyone’s right to choose and if, in turn more than 50% of the US population wants to have that choice, then we should give it to them.

Technically, if a measly 20% of our population demands the protection of their right to choose, then the 70% of the population that wants a public option should have the right to choose one.

Posted by: Fred at September 28, 2009 7:11 PM
Comment #288601

Why do you want another government run program? Fix the two programs that we now have, MEDICARE AND MEDICADE. As far as the insurance companies go let them be free to go into each state quit with the inner state monoplies. Yea it will be funny in 20 years when your and my grand children are trying to bail out the F—King mess WE CREATED.

Posted by: KAP at September 28, 2009 7:16 PM
Comment #288606

“The US has 27 MRI machines per million Americans.
Canada and Britain have six MRI machines per million”

Which means you’re 4.5 times more likely to have an unnecessary MRI here than there, if the doctor, or Tony Soprano, can get your insurance to pay for it.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 28, 2009 8:10 PM
Comment #288607

“As far as the insurance companies go let them be free to go into each state quit with the inner state monoplies.”

This is nothing but an effort by the big insurance companies to achieve a backdoor de-regulation of the health insurance industry. Insurance companies can now compete in any state they desire. They simply have to comply with state regulations related to minimum coverage standards, community ratings to assure access, etc.

The consequence of allowing “across state line” sales of health insurance is that the domicile state of the company will determine the regulations applicable to the policies. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the insurance companies will gravitate to those states with the least regulation as banks did with credit cards.

The consequence of de-regulation will be good for the young and healthy who will be able to find coverage at significantly less than they can find currently in modestly or highly regulated states. The consequences for the middle aged and those with pre-existing conditions will be dismal. That is why advocates of “across state line sale” encourage the states to develop “high risk” pools to accomodate those priced out of the insurance market.

This is a great idea for the insurance industry. They get to insure the young and healthy and the state gets to insure the older and sick.

Posted by: Rich at September 28, 2009 8:20 PM
Comment #288608

KAP, I want a government run program because the for profit program doesn’t work. It is also b.s. that many are calling this a government takeover of health care. At most will be a government takeover of the health insurance industry - those are two entirely different things. Medicare wouldn’t be in as bad a shape as it is now if every president since Reagan hadn’t taken excess funds and used it for god knows what.

How about 20 years of doing nothing which you are proposing. 20 years of bankruptcies, 20 years of rate hikes, 20 years of claims denials. When your health care premium is 50% of your paycheck then you’ll be singing a different tune. You are delusional if you think these insurance companies want any reform and will do anything unless there is someone forcing them. Getting rid of these statewide monopolies would be a start but then what about the fact that there are only about 5 companies underwriting all of the health care policies in this country? They are all in collusion with each other to keep rates artificially high.Give me a break.

Like I said, you all have already lost. Instead of being constructive about this very serious issue the GOP decided to make it about death panels and other crap designed solely to bring down Obama politically.

I agree with Fred that it should be more or less self-sufficient - except that the government plan will likely have more high risk participants with pre-existing conditions and people in poverty or near it that will need assistance. I don’t know how all that figures in, but probably still be cheaper without 30% of the money put in going to insurance companies not providing health care.

I still have not heard what the Republicans did about health care when they were in charge…

Posted by: tcsned at September 28, 2009 8:23 PM
Comment #288613

So in other words you want bigger government and mommy and daddy government taking care of your every need. BHO is doing a fine enough job of bringing himself down, the GOP doesn’t need to help him. We will see who the winners are come 2010 election time. Democrats push a bill that a majority don’t want they are dead. I’m satisfied with the health care I have and in a few years I’ll be on one of those government run programs anyway.

Posted by: KAP at September 28, 2009 9:01 PM
Comment #288623

KAP - when the current system actively works against my best interests because of greed, then yes, I do. Not everyone in this country thinks that anything the government touches is evil. It’s not that anyone wants something for free - I just want someone to keep these insurance company crooks honest because they have proven to be just the opposite and waiting for them to do the right thing just ain’t gonna happen. I am happy to pay for my health insurance but I demand to be treated fairly by anyone I give money to and that is not the case with any of the big insurance companies. There isn’t one out there that is honest. It’s not even that I really trust the people who run the government either - I just look to who has an incentive to make things work better. Insurance companies have an economic interest it screwing me. People working for the government aren’t going to get multi-million dollar bonuses to rip me off. They run a good operation, they keep their jobs. An entirely different set of interests and motivations.

I pay my taxes, I’ll pay more in taxes if it means I get quality health care. I am not looking for some government handout nor are most people who believe we should have at a bare minimum, a public option. Our kids will be paying a lot more for Bush’s stupid wars which he chose not to pay for than this health care plan.

Posted by: tcsned at September 29, 2009 7:44 AM
Comment #288625

“you want bigger government and mommy and daddy government taking care of your every need”

No, and I don’t want a Mommy and Daddy Private Sector telling me how to live My Life as the Republicans insist that we all do.

The question on today’s healthcare system is that it still insist that we warehourse everyone. You belong in Private Insurance, Joe belongs on Medicare, and Jan belongs on Medicad. Yet, none of them address the problems that will be faced in the next 20 years by the Baby Boomers of the Children of the 21st Century. For what is the good of building Medical Beds for the Elderly when in 20 years they will no longer be needed?

Hence, a Government Option could and IMHO should include addressing those conserms since the Private Sector is so interested in protecting the Status Quo.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 29, 2009 8:21 AM
Comment #288663

“Which means you’re 4.5 times more likely to have an unnecessary MRI here than there, if the doctor, or Tony Soprano, can get your insurance to pay for it.”
Posted by: ohrealy at September 28, 2009 08:10 PM

If we were to follow Ohrealy’s logic, one could assume that the country with no MRI’s would have no uncessary MRI’s performed. Hmmm…is this an argument against life-saving machinery. What’s next…no prescription medications to ensure no one pays too much for them?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2009 5:54 PM
Comment #288688

Royal Flush,
“one could assume that the country with no MRI’s would have no uncessary MRI’s performed”

aThat is my Personal Political View, not President Obamas’. He simply wants to cut out all the unnecessary MRIs given that don’t help the Patient or the Doctor sovle the medical problem.

So what do you say about not getting charged for the MRIs ordered through Defensive Medicine Practices? For stictly from a personal view, why should I pay the Doctor for something they cannot read, but I can.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 30, 2009 10:20 AM
Comment #288701

the republicans had 8 years and did nothing. As a person who works in healthcare and sees the abuse I have to agree. A public option is the only way.

Posted by: KAY at September 30, 2009 3:43 PM
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