The main “gripe” about a public health insurance option:
[C]ritics argue that with low administrative costs and no need to produce profits, a public plan will start with an unfair pricing advantage. They say that if a public plan is allowed to pay doctors and hospitals at levels comparable to Medicare’s, which are substantially below commercial insurance rates, it could set premiums so low it would quickly consume the market.
This, of course, is the whole point of a public option: we’ll all be able to afford it. For once.
The Republicans and the health insurance companies, on the other hand, want to make you pay more money for the “life” they claim to cherish so much — and then, once you’re paying, they want to continue to randomly deny you the coverage you paid for, or to spike your rates for no reason, and on and on.
Adding… Robert Reich:
I’ved poked around Washington today, talking with friends on the Hill who confirm the worst: Big Pharma and Big Insurance are gaining ground in their campaign to kill the public option in the emerging health care bill.
You know why, of course. They don’t want a public option that would compete with private insurers and use its bargaining power to negotiate better rates with drug companies. They argue that would be unfair. Unfair? Unfair to give more people better health care at lower cost? To Pharma and Insurance, “unfair” is anything that undermines their profits.
And how they’re trying to kill it:
One of their proposals is to break up the public option into small pieces under multiple regional third-party administrators that would have little or no bargaining leverage. A second is to give the public option to the states where Big Pharma and Big Insurance can easily buy off legislators and officials, as they’ve been doing for years. A third is bind the public plan to the same rules private insurers have already wangled, thereby making it impossible for the public plan to put competitive pressure on the insurers.
Bastards one and all. Seriously. The worst of the worst our system has produced. This isn’t about gas prices or some vague political hackery — this is about our health. Our lives. Literally. And the health insurance companies — the companies many of us are handing our cash to every month — are spending it on efforts like this, while denying coverage and hiking rates.