Health Insurance Public Option – What’s Wrong With This Picture?


I had a very strange email message a few days ago, from “the public health insurance option.” I’ve never had an option write to me before!

The public health insurance option told me it would save me around 10% on my premiums. I was stunned. If the public option can only save us 10%, what is the point? I was expecting it to save 50% to 70%.

There is definitely something wrong with this picture. The US has everything it needs to have a great healthcare system – education, willing people, money. Unfortunately, it also has greed, special interests, politicians that care more about themselves and special interests, than the people they are supposed to serve.

The people they are supposed to serve take much of the blame too, because most are too lazy to vote, but that is another story.

Other countries have health systems that work, don’t eat up your bank account and have some kind of balance. The US seems destined to go its own way, fiddling around the edges, able to do that because the only stories about healthcare elsewhere are fueled by rumor and repeated lies – mostly because people don’t research the truth.

In Australia, the public option is called Medicare and all Australians pay into it. The cost is 1.5% of taxable income, so if you earn $50,000, you pay $750 per year.

On top of that, you can have private insurance, which allows you to choose your doctor, any specialist you need and any hospital. There are many options and the cost for a couple with no children, earning $50,000 is between $260 to $325 per month.

That is under half of what I pay here in the US. We are told that volume and competition make a big difference to the price of anything. That is the reason that a car in the US costs half what it costs in Australia.

Yet here is a reversal – health insurance in Australia is half what it costs in the US. Not only am I paying double what Aussies pay, my medical bills can still bankrupt me, but in Australia, the $325 per month covers everything, not a single extra cent comes out of my pocket.

What is wrong with this picture?

The “public health insurance option” told me it would save everyone 10%. What is the point of that? The only point may be if you wanted to set up a massive bureaucracy and create more government jobs that can shuffle paper around. It seems to me that three changes to the existing system – and there could be many more – would drop insurance costs by 20% to 50%. Those things are competition across state lines, control of litigation plus proper licensing of doctors and control of drug costs (why do US drugs cost less in Canada).

The email said I should call, write to or email Senator Dianne Feinstein. I think that would be a good idea for all NewsBlaze readers too. You could call and ask her why this public option will only save 10%.

The email said:

Can you call your senator, Dianne Feinstein, and tell her that health care reform must include a real public health insurance option that’s available immediately-not a “trigger”?

I think the call should be:

Can you call your senator, Dianne Feinstein, and tell her that health care reform must reduce insurance costs by 90% for basic cover and 50% for comprehensive cover.

Here is the email I received:

Hi, I’m the public health insurance option.

People have been saying all sorts of untrue things about me lately, so I decided it was time to stand up and set the record straight.

First off: the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I’m happy and healthy. And I’m proud to play a starring role in four of the five health reform bills currently on the table.

Second: I have a lot of friends. President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi support me – as do 77% of the American people. In fact, I’m feeling pretty popular.

But there is one area where I could use your help. The Senate Finance Committee is considering a “trigger” proposal that could kill me through indefinite delay.

Can you call your senator, Dianne Feinstein, and tell her that health care reform must include a real public health insurance option that’s available immediately-not a “trigger”?

Here’s where to call:

Senator Dianne Feinstein Phone: 202-224-3841

District Offices:

Fresno: 559-485-7430

Los Angeles: 310-914-7300

San Diego: 619-231-9712

San Francisco: 415-393-0707

A “trigger” that would make me wait to become available is just a trap designed to kill me. As Senator Charles Schumer has pointed out, “any reasonable criteria for triggering a public plan has already been met” because insurance companies have already failed to rein in costs and expand coverage.

Here are some other things you might not know about me:

* Some people say they don’t like me because I’m too expensive, but that’s just a flat-out lie. Keeping me around will actually save money-I’d cost 10% less than the typical private plan.

* I’m the best way to keep insurance companies honest. Like my friend Senator Jay Rockefeller has said, “Without the steady, positive influence of a public plan option in the marketplace, we will never truly solve the health care crisis in this country. Private health insurance has a long history of cutting people off or charging too much for too little.”

* Over 60 House progressives have publicly pledged to only vote for a bill that has me in it.

So without me, health care reform doesn’t have enough votes make it through Congress.

And I’m counting on your help to make it through the Senate. Can you call Sen. Feinstein today?