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Public Health Insurance Plan Worries Some


Public health insurance options and exchanges are worrisome to a number of health care industry leaders. Most notably, the American Medical Association (A.M.A.) has announced it is strongly opposed to any public health insurance proposals. The A.M.A., the nation's largest physician advocacy group with more than 250,000 members, is worried such a plan would push rates for private insurers higher and eventually push those private companies out of business.

Private markets, not public health insurance mandates, are what is needed according to the A.M.A., private health-insurers, and other industry leaders. Reports from Capitol Hill indicate the public option is one of the aspects of the plan President Obama is most adamant about. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also released a statement declaring any bill released from the House will include a public option.

Some Democrat leaders, such as Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), seek to model any future public health insurance plan after Medicare. Washington insiders report such a plan is unpopular among many Democrats as they seek a plan that will garner at least some Republican support. Other officials claim modeling a plan after Medicare will be difficult to sale to the American public.

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Cost estimates on a public health insurance plan could also skyrocket beyond initial measures. The A.M.A. warned that with approximately 70% of Americans getting their coverage from private insurers, a public option could create an exodus from these companies, quickly overwhelming the system and sticking tax-payers with a massive bill. It is feared by many that the government-run public option will lower rates to points out of range for private companies, forcing them out of business.

This fact is leading health insurance industry advocates to speak out against any public health insurance legislation. America's Health Insurance Plans, the nation's largest lobbying group for the industry, worries such a plan would make their already bureaucratically-laden jobs all the more difficult.

In lobbying against a public health insurance plan, doctors, the A.M.A., employers, and insurers must be careful so as to appear they are simply not seeking to protect profits. While the fact is, without profits, no business works nor produces results, be it a grocery store or a hospital, the current political climate makes smearing profit-producing groups easy scapegoats. These groups, whose lives are vested in the interest of producing the best outcomes for patients, are seeking to inform the public of how details a public plan will effect them personally.

A public health insurance plan would radically alter the way method of health care delivery in this nation, forever. The strawman argument being used by President Obama and other, claiming others say nothing should be done, is a fallacy deliberately meant to mislead the American public. Physicians, insurers, and employers alike are not claiming nothing should be done. These groups that are forced to deal with the actual details of health care are simply warning a public health insurance option would do what all other government-run programs do, create further headaches and unintended consequences.