Argument: Public health insurance offers citizens more choices

Issue Report: Public health insurance option


Jacob Hacker. “The case for public plan”. The Institute for America’s Future: “What we can say instead is that public plan choice gives Americans the opportunity to choose for themselves how they value the strengths and weaknesses of a public, Medicare-like plan and competing private health plans. As health policy expert Jeanne Lambrew puts the point, the question is not why nonelderly Americans without secure workplace coverage should have the same choice that seniors do: enrolling in a public or private plan. The question is: ‘Why should policymakers give private insurers the exclusive right to cover Americans? If private insurers can better meet our goals for the health system, why object to a level competition with public plans?'”

President Obama wrote in a letter to US Senators, that a [public option] will give Americans “a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep the insurance companies honest.”[1]

President Barack Obama said in March of 2009: “[Public insurance] gives consumers more choices, and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there’s some competition out there.”[2]

2009 Statement by the American Nurses Association: “ANA disagrees with the American Medical Association’s speculation that a public health insurance plan option would threaten to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, as stated in the New York Times story. The choice of a public health insurance plan will create a level playing field, where for-profit private plans will have to compete with each other out in the open under fair rules. Patients should be able to see what they’re getting so they can make the choice about where they purchase coverage and not receive a surprise from their insurer buried in the fine print when they seek health care services.”[3]

Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager for Health Care for America Now! “Three Reasons for the Choice of a Public Health Insurance Plan”. May 15, 2009: “Choice. Currently, private health insurance companies enjoy monopoly power in most markets. That means that you (or your employer) likely only have one or two insurance plans to choose from. With so few choices, it’s not surprising that many find their health insurance doesn’t meet their needs, or are squeezed by rising costs without any other options. The insurance industry’s monopoly is bad for your health and your wallet.

A public health insurance option will give everyone in America a true choice. If for whatever reason you become dissatisfied with your current insurance, you will be able to switch your coverage to the public health insurance plan, which will guarantee your premiums will be affordable and your benefits will meet your needs. Your bank account will be happy, and you’ll have your health.”