Why Everyone Should Want a Public Health Care Option

June 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I heard a very interesting discussion of our health care system this evening on NPR.

On the show, health care reform was framed like so: the government plays either the role of financier or the role of insurer.

In the role of financier, the government helps subsidize health care in some manner for those who can’t afford it. They provide the money.

In the role of insurer, the government actually provides the insurance to cover those who can’t afford it. Instead of directly providing the money, they provide the insurance to the needy. This is similar to how Medicaid functions.

Conservatives in the media will talk about how government should stay out of health care altogether, but this is not the debate going on in Washington right now. The debate going on is between whether the government should only take on the role of financier or whether government should act in the role of insurer.

They call this the public option versus the private option, but it is really two different options of government intervention.

If the government only gets involved as a financier, as the health insurance companies want, then the money would go from the government to the insurers (who would take a cut off the top) to the people.

In this scenario, the insurance companies do very little other than play the role of middle man and take a portion of the money.

Why not cut out the middle man?

No matter how efficient an insurance company is, they won’t be as efficient as in the scenario where they aren’t needed at all.

This is why I believe in a government sponsored health insurance plan. Cut out the middle man.

Now of course the health insurance companies are going to lobby against this. If you could get access to the government’s money and take a cut off the top without doing much, wouldn’t you lobby for the money?

The most efficient use of government funds to provide health care to all would be for the government to offer a program similar to Medicare where the government acts as the insurer and does not need to pay a middle man.