Wow....this thread has really quitted down in a hurry. Either no one has anything more to say or you've all decided to go out and do some heavy reading from all those links I provided (see post #55).
Since I called for true debate, let me get things started....
The Public Option.
I'm for it and against it. I'll clarify...
The government public option would provide the broadest reach of health care coverage for those who could not or choose not to obtain their health care insurance through their employer. Under H.R. 3200, individuals and their families could acquire health care in four ways:
a. through their employer.
b. through Medicaid (for low-income individuals/families or disabled individuals under the age of 65).
c. through Medicare for retired (elderly) individuals.
d. through the newly formed Health Insurance Exchange (HIE).
Before going further, let me just say this: I am not for establishing the public option as it is currently outlined in H.R. 3200. Why? Because, IMO, it would needlessly create another branch of government. Why create another department of government when you already have one that could do the job just as well: the Department of Health and Human Services? Now, if the public option came directly under the DHHS, I'd likely be for it because all that would be done is expanding one branch of government that already carries out a large portion of our nation's health care policies anyway. But to create a new branch of government to do what another branch of government could do just as well, IMO, is wasteful. That said, the public option in and of itself isn't a bad idea. And here's why?
One of the major issue with health care reform that both sides would like to implement is making health insurance portable. It's not just a matter of whether or not you change from one job to another, but also the matter of if you move from one state to another. To that, let's look at the other "public option" being proposed which would be state-based. It is here that I think people miss the mark as to the significance of a government-based public option over a state-based public option.
Both H.R. 3200 and the Policy Option proposed by the Senate Finance Committe (SFC) suggest establishing state-based public options, that is health insurance exchanges within each state. However, there is a limitation on how broad health care would be under such a proposal. For example, if your state has one or two primary health insurance carriers who can offer "group" health insurance at an affordable price, chances are your employers will only be able to get insurance through that insurance company. In most states, competition would still be limited because you'd still have the same "players" involved. The SFC proposes that neighboring states could be allowed to form regional "co-ops". The benefit here is that the range of competition among insurance companies is broader, but you're still limited in two ways:
1) in what "group" to choose from; and,
2) how "portable" that insurance policy is for the individual.
Under state-based HIEs, you get more "options" and greater "portability", but both are limited to the "region" towhich you live and work. So, let's assume for example, you move from FL to NC. Provided that FL, SC and NC are all within the same region for state-based HIE coverage, there's no problem. But what if you move from FL to VA? FL to NY? FL to TX? Now, you have a problem?
The government-based public option would eliminate this "regional restriction" by ensuring that your health coverage remains intact "nationwide". So, even if you moved from CA to ME, not only would you still be covered but you'd also retain the exact same health benefits at the exact same cost no matter where you lived!
This is why having a government-based public option is so important. It represents true portability while maintaining benefit coverage and premimum costs.