Bob Franken

The Public Option Subterfuge

For the moment, let’s step past the battle over a Government Option as competition for the private insurance companies. The real problem is that there would still be that private option.

Unless, we eliminate the revenue-obsessed insurance companies and adopt a single-payer system in this country, which most are loathe to do, it would be difficult for profit and non-profit to co-exist.

Under such an arrangement, insurance companies would find ways to offer their policies only to the most healthy, those least likely to need a payout from their medical coverage. Their lawyers would find ways to circumvent any restrictions on covering those with pre-existing conditions and canceling those customers once they get sick.

They would use the public plans as their dumping grounds, to put in bluntly, by tossing out anybody who would threaten the next quarterly report.

It’s fascinating how this might be the mirror image of what happens in countries that rely on government health insurance the reflection would be backwards.

While the people of Canada, for instance, like to laud it over the United States for its government run systems, many citizens sometimes get frustrated with the delays in optional and semi-optional care.

The well off can head south of the border and pay extra for exactly what they want, when they want it in the US…exercising, in effect, their PRIVATE option.

If there was a public alternative here in the US, things would operate the other way around, where the insurance companies would cherry-pick the healthy and wealthy, while the government plan would have to shoulder the financial burden of the less fortunate.

It’s the worst of both worlds, and what happens when a country tries to have it both ways. The best we can hope for here in the U-S-of-A is a continued insurance based system, with as much reform as the companies will allow in return for the billions in new revenue they;ll get from the young and healthy who are newly coerced to spend their money with the new mandated coverage.

Whatever crumbs these mega corporations allow the campaign fund-desperate politicians to take back will be what we call “reform”. Any so-called “public option” will be, at best, a waste of time and taxpayer money and worse, a mechanism that allows the insurance companies even more swollen profits.

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