One of my republican friends asked me”who needs a public option, anyway?”over a beer the other evening. He was responding to my shout of dismay over Ms Sibelius statement that the public option was “not really necessary” to health care reform.
So who needs a public option?
People who are currently uninsured, of course. Most of them are not uninsured by their own choice, but by the choice of an insurance company. A few may have elected to remain uninsured even when eligible, due to cost of premiums, etc . Many younger colleagues fall into this latter group, which has the effect of raising insurance rates for everyone else (since the remaining population are older and higher risk)
People who cannot afford to lose their insurance. Many people maintain are locked in to their insurance because of conditions that would be considered ‘pre-existing’ by a new insurer. Even if able to be covered by a new insurer, their premiums would likely be higher, or their coverage would carry many more restrictions. Health costs are already high – who would choose to voluntarily increase their expenses while reducing benefits?
And people like me. I have a job. I am in reasonably good health, and have decent employer-based health insurance for myself and my family. But I am effectively locked into my current employment. I would love to start my own business, but I cannot afford to be without healthcare. Private healthcare is so expensive, my baseline operating costs would be simply exorbitant. The risk of starting a business is already high. The penurious cost of private healthcare makes a high risk venture, insanely high.
In my travels I meet a great many people – and many people feel equally locked into employment: “I’d love to quit this job and go do
X but I can’t afford to give up my healthcare”.
Lack of a public option is killing America’s spirit of entrepreneurship. It’s killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The ability of common Americans to start their own ventures without hindrance is central to the spirit of independence and vitality that made this country an economic powerhouse in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The fact that republicans are most viscerally against a public option demonstrates that they are not “for business”, but are simply and solely for “big business”.