Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Government's Public Option- Cheap, But Fair?

The political issue that Barack Obama has decided to make his own for his first term is health care. And, as such, the issue for the mainly-Democratic Congress, and their Republican opponents, is.. Health care. As stated in the Republican rebuttal to Obama's speech to the Joint Session of Congress last week by Charles Boustany (R-Louisiana), Democrats and Republicans agree on most of the bill. But, there are a few main differences between their philosophies. Mainly, the issue of a government-funded public option.

Democrats argue that the public option is a distraction. "That (reducing the deficit) is really the meat of the matter, not the distraction of whether it's a co-op or a public option. That's a small part of this," said Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Yes, it isn't the whole issue. But, in a debate where both sides are trying to reach similar ends, and actually agree on many points, the differences stand out. But, what is the public option?

Basically, the public option is government-funded health care. It serves a large purpose in the President's plan for health care, which is based on the belief that everyone in the United States must have health insurance. While this idea is good on paper, it is a bit more difficult to make work in practice. Not everyone can afford to pay for health insurance as an individual, and some of those who technically can, choose not to. The public option creates an alternative to signing up for an expensive policy- much cheaper, government-run health insurance.

This is where the plan gets a little sketchy. Again, it looks good on paper. The concept of everyone having inexpensive coverage is definitely attractive, and the Obama administration maintains that everyone retains the right to choose between the government-run option and their current provider. Sounds like a win for all, right?

The simple fact is, some may not have the right to choose. Health care is often provided through one's employer, and it is obviously a business. So, look at it from a business perspective.

You are the owner of a large company, in the billions-and-trillions of dollars range. And, as everyone can see, our health care system isn't functioning as well as it should be. 37th worldwide..? Come on. Health care is overpriced, for one. And, while running the company, you must provide health insurance for your employees. Now, this is a money issue, not a quality-of-care issue, for any CEO. You'll pick the least expensive option, as will everyone else. Why not?

But, the least expensive option will soon be the government. This will lead to a certain downsizing of the health insurance market, as the companies with government backing survive. Small-business owners are worried about the plan, as are people with jobs in the health care industry. In the words of Kimberly Weatherford, owner of Red Eagle Software Consulting in Atlanta, "I may not be REQUIRED to make a change, but the financial impact of the reforms may REQUIRE that I make a change."

Where does this lead?


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