UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 26, 2009

WHY A PUBLIC PLAN WON'T WORK

Steffie Woolhandler, NY Times letter - A public plan option that competes with private insurers won't fix health care. Competition in health insurance involves a race to the bottom, not the top. Insurers compete by not paying for care: by seeking out the healthy and avoiding the sick; by denying payment and shifting costs onto patients. These bad behaviors confer a decisive competitive advantage; a public plan would either emulate them - becoming a clone of private insurance - or go under.

Moreover, the savings on overhead from a public plan option are far smaller than you suggest. While it might cut insurers' profits (which is why they hate it), that's only 3 percent of the roughly $400 billion squandered on health bureaucracy annually.

Far more goes for armies of insurance administrators who fight over payment, and to their counterparts at hospitals and doctors' offices - all of whom would be retained with a public plan option. In contrast, a single-payer reform would radically simplify the payment system and redirect the vast savings to care.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home