Public Plan? Surprise - We've Already Got One.
It's the question of the day: is a public plan option necessary? The truth is, we're already several decades into a public plan. And for millions of Americans already in the Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Administration pipeline, the answer to the question is yes.
The more relevant issue is whether a broader public plan will interfere with Americans' choices.
Most Medicare beneficiaries report satisfaction with the current system. In fact, a recent Commonwealth Fund survey found about the same percentage of Medicare and employer-sponsored beneficiaries report being satisfied with their insurance. This suggests that a public plan may work, as long as it remains an option.
The "x" factor is whether a public plan will cause other options to dry up. Will employers close down their private coverage and push employees towards a cheaper, government-run program? The Lewin Group estimates that the public plan premiums would be more than 20 percent cheaper. If the public plan is open to all, why wouldn't companies drop private coverage in favor of a Medicare-based public plan?
However, our public plan is in big trouble. The Medicare Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt in 2017. In order to preserve the system, services will inevitably be cut. If a newly-conceived public option simply follows in Medicare's footsteps, disaster may be just a decade or two away.
The devil is in the details. A public plan must be sustainable for the long term and have a reliable funding source. It must also preserve Americans' ability to choose their method of coverage. For cancer patients in particular, who need access and coordinated care from many practitioners, this is absolutely essential.
Posted by: bkuehn54 | August 8, 2009 10:12 PM
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