Healthcare Reform – The ‘Public’ in Public Option
Mention death and many people recoil in discomfort. Although death is very much a stage in the circle of life, many people see it as an end and live their entire lives in search of a miracle elixir that will keep them going long after their bodies have broken down.
Aside from eating a well-balanced meal and exercising, the best way to ward off an early death is to take preventative measures. One of those measures begins with fixing an over burdened and desperately broken healthcare system. According to the Federal Governments position on healthcare, healthcare reform cannot wait.
With rising healthcare costs devastating many everyday families, families are left with stark options–pay for food and rent or to pay or buy health insurance. According to a 2007 analysis, the average American family spent $7,421 per person that is more on health care than on food or housing–nearly double the price of other developed nations. If healthcare costs continue to increase, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that by the year 2025, one out of every four dollars will be tangled up in the healthcare system.
Amidst speculation and supposition, many people never hear the truth–a truth that many refuse to admit. Instead of banding together to fix a worn out healthcare system, some politicians are angling to collapse the entire proposal based on one aspect of healthcare reform–the public option.
What is the public option? First, let us consider what it is not. The public option is not for those who already pay for insurance, or are provided health insurance by an employer, nor is it for small businesses that want to buy a plan at an affordable rate. Healthcare reform, with an emphasis on the public option, is engineered to create a health exchange.
The health exchange, essentially, is a one-stop healthcare competition intended to lower the price of health insurance by creating a set of guidelines in which insurance providers are required to adhere too. The major points outlined by President Obama, and vital to reform, are identified in the following bullets:
* There would be no discrimination based on employment, gender, or health.
* There would be a cap on out of pocket expenses.
* Policy renewal is guaranteed.
* You could qualify for a subsidy if your income was below the federal poverty line.
* No one would be turned down based on a pre-existing condition.
* You could compare varying benefits between different companies to decide the one that works best for you.
It is important to recognize that the health exchange is not the public option. The public option is only a part of the solution to healthcare reform. The public option is a new player introduced, which is introduced into the market. Similar to the advantage that the United States Postal Service offers in lower prices compared to that of FedEx, DHL, and UPS–the public option acts just like any other insurance company competing in the health exchange.
The government led insurance plan would be a not-for-profit solution to lowering healthcare costs. For example, there would not be a high salary to pay too a CEO, expensive advertisement costs, and the administrative overhead would be relatively low considering that it would be a government run department. In addition, by interjecting a public option into the myriad of health insurance providers, price gauging would be limited because it would force larger companies into providing the best possible coverage at the lowest possible price, or run the risk of losing customers.
Unfortunately, some politicians claim that a public option fix to healthcare is not the best approach. Considering that the public option helps save billions of dollars by reducing the expenses we pay for insurance–matched by the competition it injects into the market by creating an exchange whereby any number of insurance companies could compete for their stake at your business. Added only by the fact that you cannot be dropped from your insurance due to an illness or preexisting condition, and you are left with a no brainer.
Healthcare reform without the public option is like leaving the top down and the keys to your Porsche in the ignition. In order to break free from the status quo and fix our ailing healthcare system, we must change our current practices. After all, it is called a ‘public’ option for a reason.