Public Options vs. Private Options

Michele Bachmann is very confused. On one hand, a public health insurance plan would be so awesome that it would put private insurance companies out of business. Well, okay. As long as the privates are behaving like WellPoint and CIGNA, they deserve it. On the other hand, Bachmann says that government is incapable of running student loans because...

"...government can't compete with private industry -- they're not as innovative, they're not as quick on their feet, they're not as cheap, they're not as high quality."

And yet they'll put private insurance companies out of business. Uh-huh.

The reason why 65 percent of Americans support a public insurance option is that we mostly understand that government services are less expensive. Americans like things that are less expensive.

At the same time, private and public options can, in fact, coexist. When I was in New York a couple weeks ago, I took a cab from Penn Station to the West Village. Cost: $8 for a private transportation service (not counting tip). For the ride back to Penn Station, I hopped on the subway. Cost: $2.25, public transportation. The public option was cheaper and faster. But there are still more than 13,000 cabs in Manhattan.