The Public "Option"
By Robert Romano
Like all big lies, the public “option” deceives individuals not only through distortion, but also omission. And unless the American people are warned and stand up for the true health options they currently possess, Barack Obama and Congress will rapidly enact legislation that is designed to degrade and, eventually, destroy those choices that Americans today take for granted.
Through a sleight of hand, proponents of the public “option” act as if there are not already other public options already available when there are: Medicare, Medicaid, and other state and local services for the elderly, poor, and children.
This is the omission. It is designed to fool the American people that they do not already have enough “choices” in health care. That the government does not do enough already. Or that, somehow, there are not enough options currently available. Which, of course, is a lie.
The U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation. As of 2006, the Census Bureau estimates that some 201.7 million, or 71.5 percent of Americans with health insurance, get their insurance privately. 28.5 percent of those with insurance, or 80.3 million, get it from the government.
Presently, the average premium for single coverage is $4,700, according to the National Coalition on Health Care. All told, in 2007, the U.S. spent $2.4 trillion in total health care spending.
Not enough options? $2.4 trillion is just the beginning. The price tag for health care expenditures, NCHC projects, will rise to $3.1 trillion by 2012, and $4.3 trillion by 2016.
Advocates claim this will create competition between the public and private sectors—as if the private sector could compete with a “business” with an unlimited money supply that has no incentive to even operate in the black. This year alone it finds itself in a $1.8 trillion hole, before any public “option” has even been enacted.
Once passed, the federal government will cover what it can through revenue, and then just borrow and/or print the rest. What will private health carriers do?
Since they cannot charge lower rates and then borrow to make ends meet, they'll lose customers. And then have to jack up premiums ever further in order to stay solvent.
Employers on the other hand will have lost the incentive to provide coverage to employees. To save costs, they'll pass the buck back to the taxpayers, who will now be guaranteed coverage through the public “option.”
The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the public “option” will at all be optional. It will not be. Because it cannot be. It is designed to crowd out private options by guaranteeing coverage on a federal level—indeed, by mandating it.
President Obama seems optimistic: “When I say if you have your plan and you like it… or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform.”
Of course, even if there is no sweeping mandate to use the public “option,” the law of gravity still applies—the larger mass shall attract the smaller masses towards it. This is how monopolies are formed, whether state-run or not.
The big lie is that the American people will have any choice at all but to use the public “option,” which will be the only option left.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.