Friday, June 12, 2009

Health Care Reform, American Medical Association, Public Health Insurance Option

I read an article in the New York Times the other day that indicated the American Medical Association submitted comments to Congress in opposition to a public run insurance option for those who are non disabled and under 65 years of age. The public run insurance option is being strongly pushed by the Obama administration. I have previously discussed this option in my series on health care reform. This plan is essentially Medicare for everyone. While clearly needing reform, the public health insurance option has the potential of completely destroying the health care system we have now including the many parts of the system that do work. For this reason it is opposed by the American Medical Association which comments to the Senate Finance Committee.

Why is a public health insurance option a bad idea? It sounds at first look like a pretty good idea. After all, Medicare seems to work fairly well. The problem is though that Medicare works only because 70 % of patient care is provided under private insurance programs. Medicare payments are not enough to keep hospitals in business nor some medical practices, particularly psychiatric practices. While the Obama administration says it wants a publicly funded plan to keep private insurers fair and honest there are many other ways of doing this. Issues of preexisting conditions and excessive rates do need to be dealt with. A publicly funded plan will do more than keep private insurers honest and fair though. It will drive them out of business.

Another problem with this plan is the question of where the public funding will come from. Medicare is facing a financial crisis. To open up a similar plan to all Americans would come at an exorbitant cost, transferring many of the health care costs from private insurers to taxpayers. In regard to health care reform ideas the American Medical Association is right in my opinion to oppose any plan that includes an expansion of a public health insurance option.

Thought for the day

"All good gifts come from above"

St. James

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