It's been a downer week, bottoming out, of course, with the loss of Ted Kennedy. Perhaps his death will give new impetus within the Congress to health care reform, but I doubt it. Rather, one hopes that it will reenergize progressives into standing up to the bullies and demanding real reform. To this progressive, real reform is impossible without the widely misunderstood public option.
The public option is not:
- single-payer health care as in Canada
- government-supplied health care as in Great Britain
- a welfare program for those unable to afford private insurance
- (regrettably) "socialized" medicine in any way, shape, or form
The public option is an alternative to purchasing private health insurance. With a public option, people have the option of purchasing insurance from the federal government at market rates. The insurance industry opposes the public option because they are a cabal seeking to protect what amounts to a monopoly. Rather than offer competitive choice, they oppose it. A public option would threaten such insidious practices as recission, denying requests for expensive procedures, refusal to cover preexisting conditions, and outright denial of coverage.
Make no mistake about it: If you have private insurance that you have purchased yourself or are covered through a small business, you are in effect underinsured. Insurance companies think nothing of taking your money for years, then denying coverage due to technicalities (recission), on the basis of "experimental" (new) procedures, or raising rates on a small business until they are forced to drop coverage.
As Nicholas Kristof points out in today's must-read column,Remember the three essentials of health care reform: A public option, enforced competition, tighter regulation. When someone tells you that they are for reform but against Obamacare, ask them what reforms they support, why they are adequate, and how they achieve the goals of the three essentials...
The insurers are open to one kind of reform — universal coverage through mandates and subsidies, so as to give them more customers and more profits. But they don't want the reforms that will most help patients, such as a public insurance option, enforced competition and tighter regulation...
Get out your handkerchiefs:
Friday's Choice: Paul Sanchez sings "The Foot Of Canal Street" at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (more on this great song here):