“Public Option” Is a Gimmick That Won’t Improve Healthcare

In the Washington Post, Robert J. Samuelson explains in the “Public Plan Mirage” how the so-called “public option” contained in congressional health-care reform bills is just a gimmick: “It pretends to control costs and improve access to quality care when it doesn’t.” Steve Chapman wrote earlier about the “‘Public Option’ Health Care Scam.”

In other news, a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that the provisions in the Senate health care “reform” bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013 and $600 for a single person. By 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher.

CEI’s Greg Conko calls the Baucus bill “worse than the disease.”  In a recently-released paper, “A Cure Worse than the Disease: Obama Care Won’t Cut Costs, But May Cut Quality,” Conko notes that most of the alleged cost-cutting measures in the Baucus bill merely shift costs from the federal government onto the states or private payers, without reducing long-term health care inflation.  The only measures that could conceivably reduce the annual rate of growth in health care costs would erect government barriers between patients and their doctors, while jeopardizing long-term medical innovation.

A new study by the Oliver Wyman consultancy found that provisions contained in the health-care reform bills, like guaranteed issue and community rating mandates, would drive up premiums by 50 percent for individual policies and 19 percent for small group plans.

A study from the Independence Institute says that ObamaCare would drive up inflation and medical-care costs, while shrinking the economy.

As CEI’s Conko notes, many states have highly concentrated markets.  In Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Alaska, for example, 95 percent or more of the health insurance market is served by just two insurers.  But Obama and congressional Democrats oppose letting insurers compete across state lines, blocking competition that could make health insurance cheaper.  Other countries with cheaper health insurance permit insurers to compete nationally.

ObamaCare would raise taxes.  It would also explode state and federal budget deficits, and would actually cost $2 trillion — far more than its promised $800 billion price tag.  It also ignores needed reforms that would actually reduce the costs of health care, like steps to reduce the cost of defensive medicine, which wastes $200 billion annually.  And it contains special-interest pork, like racial preferences.