As an article in the New York Times noted yesterday, critics of a public option for health care object that it might work.
But critics 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.
Yeah, that would really suck; government-supported health insurance that’s more efficient than the for-profit companies. That flies in the face of all the right-wing/AMA/HMO talking points that say if we end up with single-payer health care we’ll all be like the Canadians or British with rationed care and … socialism. This in spite of the fact that no one is talking about instituting British or Canadian style health care (although everyone who trash-talks single-payer health care has never used it… or gone without health insurance). And if they do make it an option along with private insurance (y’see, “option” means it’s voluntary — you get to choose) and the public option is better, well, who cares if it makes the private insurers nervous? It might make them more efficient and provide better care to more people. Maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t that the whole idea?
HT to rubber hose.