Georges Benjamin
Executive director of APHA

Georges Benjamin

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, has been the executive director of the American Public Health Association since 2002. Prior to that, he served as an emergency room doctor and the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Getting Everyone Covered Efficiently

Unequivocally, yes, we need a public option.

With health reform there are likely to be 47 million new people entering the coverage system. On one hand, we could funnel them into our existing insurance system which for years has not been innovative enough to find ways to lower consumer costs without limiting access -- because they lacked incentives to do so. On the other hand, we could offer individuals the option to enroll in a government-sponsored insurance plan which is designed to be efficient, effective and utilize the proven techniques that we know work to cut costs and improve outcomes. Most of the uninsured currently get care through a patchwork of public safety-net programs, so a lot of the required funds are not new but can be better directed through a optional public plan that supports a true health system.

The public insurance option would be built to lower administrative costs, utilize electronic health records to minimize paperwork, cover all individuals regardless of pre-existing conditions, focus on prevention and wellness and generally produce healthier participants. It would allow us to start from scratch and create the ideal insurance program based on proven concepts. It would also inevitably force private insurers to examine their current practices and innovate to remain competitive. It is this competition that will help propel our health system to more manageable costs and improved health outcomes.

By Georges Benjamin  |  August 4, 2009; 2:42 PM ET  | Category:  Health costs , Public option Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The logical end point of your premise is covering everyone with the public plan. What argument exists for a mixed system other than protecting vested interests and their profits?

Posted by: QBee1 | August 12, 2009 7:50 PM
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I am reporting you as un-American to

Posted by: ObamaOrDie | August 7, 2009 11:27 AM
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Unfortunately, a public option would ony cover a small portion of the population. If such a plan is better than private for profit insurance, why not give it to everyone? That way we would save the huge waste of the high overhead and compliance costs of for profit insurers and could lower drug prices by cracking down on drug company marketing.

Posted by: lensch | August 5, 2009 10:19 AM
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