The public option would have kept health insurers honest says Huffington Post; see their opinion here.
When the debate for Obamacare had begun, a public option was something many of us wanted, including myself. After years of watching health insurers make changes to our system and promises that evaporated over time, each time they decided on their economic cure for healthcare costs (remember US Healthcare?) , the costs went up, the quality of care went down, and in the end, the system got worse. We are now seeing smaller networks, higher out of pocket costs while we the consumer use our doctors less but pay more of the cost, both in health insurance premiums as well as out of our pocketbooks. The public option, whether it was Medicare or another new system would have given us a way to have more choices of doctors, coverage and hospitals that was not driven by profit.
We are now in a funk of sorts, with hospital systems joining other hospital systems, hospitals buying doctors offices, and consumers getting the cost passed on to us, after these systems realized that bigger is better when insurers were involved. Insurers give us smaller networks, fewer doctors, less choice, in-network only, and we may end up with costs we did not understand we would be liable for as some doctors who are out of network are included in our in-network journey through the hospital system without us knowing in advance.
Why did this need to be some complicated, expensive, and difficult? A public option would have given the insurers real competition, as opposed to the few coops that have developed that are losing money and are not necessarily part of improving healthcare as a whole. Also, the expansion of Medicaid, something most doctors in NJ have no interest in dealing with makes little sense even though there are well-developed clinics seeing the poor masses through hospital systems across the state.
The Huffington Post weighed in on why a Public Option was a missed opportunity that was politically thrown under the bus by those we voted in to serve us including the president. Check out their perspective here
It’s Clear Now the Public Option Really Was Needed to Keep Insurers Honest
When members of Congress caved to demands from the insurance industry and ditched their plan to establish a “public option” health plan, the lawmakers also ditched one of their favorite talking points, that a government-run plan was necessary to “keep insurers honest.”
Getting rid of a government-run insurance option was the industry’s top objective during the health care reform debate. Private insurers set out to persuade President Obama and Congressional leaders that they were trustworthy. Lawmakers were led to believe, for one thing, that insurers could be trusted to offer policies that would continue to give Americans access to the doctors they had developed relationships with and wanted to keep. And they were persuaded that insurers wouldn’t think of engaging in bait-and-switch tactics that would leave folks with less coverage than they thought they were buying.
When he was running for president, Obama regularly talked about the need for a public option. That was one reason why many health care reform advocates supported him instead of Hillary Clinton.
He kept insisting on a public option for months after he was elected. He said on July 18, 2009, “Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange–a one-stop-shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, costs, and track records of a variety of plans, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest…”
Soon after that, though, he began to waffle. It became clear to me as well as public option supporters in Congress that industry lobbyists had gotten to him. In an effort to keep the public option idea alive, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited me to testify during a Sept. 16, 2009, meeting of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Forum on Health Insurance Reform.