Why Shouldn’t the Government Offer Health Care?


Seriously, why not?  Our nation’s number one goal is not preserving the profits of insurance companies.  The big nightmare scenario that insurance companies often bring up is that if the government provides for a public health care system, there is a chance that Americans will want it.  What needs to be remembered is that, if this actually does happen, the people choosing to buy into the government option will be choosing to buy into it because it actually provides them with good health care for their dollar, not because they have an inherent urge to hand money over to the government.  If the option isn’t good people won’t buy it.  What also needs to be kept in mind is that the public option is not a health care giveaway, it is simply competition for the insurance industry.  People who will get coverage under the public option will not be given free healthcare, as are some individuals who get coverage under Medicaid, but instead are simply going to face prices that are lower than those insurance companies are currently offering.  Further, estimates of the revenues and expenses of the plan show that the vast majority of costs paid out will be covered with money taken in, so the public option will be in meaningful competition with the insurance industry, and not an unstoppable force in that market arena.  Even those most critical of the option’s cost will readily admit that even a high estimate of the yearly price tag is less than one tenth of what was spent last year to keep the banks afloat.  A good chuck of money to be sure, but completely in line with numerous other budgetary items.   

Further, it warrants emphasis that the primary reason that the public option will be such an appealing choice is that it will contain regulations that prevent providers from engaging in the price gouging of customers.  This leads to the reality that, if predictions of low cost and high quality are right, there is direct evidence that the insurance industry had indeed previously been inefficient in reducing price. Conversely, if the public option does not prove to be cheaper or better, people will not buy it and will be no worse off than they were before as private insurance would still be the norm.  It should be noted that insurance companies will be against a public option if it succeeds in giving Americans as a whole better healthcare for their dollar as it will reduce their profits.  Insurance companies will also be against the option even if it ultimately fails, as it will still mean that society was at least considering alternatives to the status quo.  As insurance companies will be against the option no matter what happens, one has to wonder if the spokespeople for that industry are really the ones who should be informing the debate on this issue.

Instead of being told what to think, the question needs to be asked by legislators, if Congress can create a plan that can provide high quality health care to hundreds of millions of Americans at a price lower than what the insurance industry is currently charging, is it really necessary to throw this option by the wayside simply because it comes from the government? Must we really pretend that government is always so unnecessary and cumbersome even when the evidence is virtually undeniable that there are some things that the government simply can do better?  Furthermore, must we pretend that there is no inherent paradox when people assert that there is no chance that the public option would work and then in the same breath say they are afraid that the plan would be so appealing that it would drive private insurance companies out of business?  For the most part the people insisting on ignoring these questions are financially interested in making the assertion that insurance companies are the only ones capable enough to provide health care. 

The reality is that if people do purchase insurance under the public plan they will do so because they find they are getting good healthcare for their dollar.  This is crucial to remember, because to hear the insurance companies tell it, one would believe that people have a deep seeded love for handing over money while remaining sick.  However, this is not the truth.  The truth is that if people hand over money to the public plan they will be making a market choice, just like every other time people willingly hand over money.  Just like when they choose the U.S. Postal system over Federal Express.  Additionally, there is no truth to the idea that somehow if the public plan pulls some customers away from the big insurance companies there is no way the insurance companies can operate profitably.  This can be refuted in two major ways.  The most basic way to do this is to point out that right at this moment, in addition to profitable big insurance companies, there are profitable small insurance companies.  This shows that it can be done.  Secondly whatever the public plan offers in terms of treatment, some people are going to want an alternative to it just because they do not like the specifics of the plan.  This is going to happen in enough cases for the insurance companies to be profitable if the public option has any significant flaws.  In the event that congress somehow creates a flawless plan then I guess insurance companies are out of luck.

The reality is that insurance companies are only likely to make less profit competing with a public option, not go out of business.  Again I ask, so what?  Seriously, if all the people on whom the insurance companies would otherwise make a profit make an informed choice to stay with the public option then this is great news, as it means we have created a better system that people are choosing willingly over the private options.  If we can get more for our dollar, why shouldn’t we?  At the end of the day, after having heard the arguments made by insurance companies, we must ask ourselves a question about our values and make a decision.  Should we insure the vast majority of Americans and provide affordable healthcare or should we ensure that insurance companies do no lose any of their profits?  If we cannot bring ourselves to answer this question, then maybe this country really is in need of a doctor.


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

-Some "Declaration" of some sort...

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