It's been awhile since I've written; today's news that the Administration may be conceding the public option for health reform prompted me to write. Here's what I think we can do - we can not just TALK and SUPPORT why a public option is essential, but ACTIVELY and FORCEFULLY support such an option - which I believe has not happened on any public level. I can think of five, simple ways to discuss this. In addition, write your U.S. Senator.
1) Why do we need a public option? To pressure insurance companies through fair competition to provide better and broader coverage. Period. No denials for pre-existing conditions, no kicking existing enrollees off for deteriorating conditions, and mandates to cover 50 million uninsured Americans - whose coverage YOU already pay for TODAY through increased premiums, co-pays, public funding of ERs and clinics.
2) YES - it's a public option - or government run plan - or socialized medicine - SO WHAT? What is wrong with that? Government, contrary to popular news memes, actually knows how to run programs. Social Security. Medicare. The US Army. Road construction. The US Postal Service. NASA. The FAA. The NTSB. FDA. Police. Firefighters. Traffic lights. Metro rails. Yes, all these things have issues and flaws, inefficiencies, waste, and mistakes. However, name me one organization or company that doesn't have these types of issues. Do you think Health Insurance as constituted today doesn't have any fraud, waste and mistakes? You may not like the policies of any of these agencies, but they do what they're told to do.
3) A public option competing with private plans is not fair. Really? Tell that to FedEx and UPS, who compete just fine with the USPS. Tell that to private utility companies, who often co-exist with public utilities. Seems to me what's not fair is insurance companies refusing to cover pre-existing conditions, or kicking people off of insurance rolls once a person actually gets sick. THAT's not fair.
4) Competition works - we are CREATING a capitalist marketplace. Employers and employees will continue to have incentives through the tax code to continue the employer-based health care paradigm. Insurance companies will need to adapt to open competition from not just government, but other insurance companies. The public option is a way to prevent collusion among the industry to retain the status quo.
5) It costs too much. What makes you think you're not paying for the care of uninsured people today? Uninsured people wait until they have to go to the doctor - usually the ER. Your taxes, otherwise slated for education, police, roads, etc. pay for this treatment. Notice your premiums and co-pays going up annually? There's a reason for that.
You may not like a public option. Fine. That's your choice, and if you like the status quo then that's fine too. I just hope that when you need the health insurance you have, it will be there for you, no matter how much you're willing to pay for it.
I will say I've been disappointed in the messaging I've seen so far. Let's work to change that.