So it's been broiling for a long time and I've not jumped into the melee. I dislike conflict and I dislike spouting facts that fail to portray the people and their stories behind statistics. So, here I am with this huge desire to express my opinion and since this is my blog, I'm jumping in.
I haven't heard the President say anything about health care that he didn't say during his campaign. A majority of Americans voted for him, I am guessing based on what he said during the campaign. And since that included universal health care for all Americans, I am left to surmise that the majority of Americans are in favor of universal health care.
I favor a public option for a couple of reasons, one of them being that I and my husband can be counted among the 30 to 46 million Americans who were without health care at some point during the year. Another reason I favor a public option is because, while my income has dropped my health insurance premiums are now double what they were a year ago. This is not because I now have better coverage; to the contrary, I have less coverage than before. I need something to give in the way of the cost of premiums. Believe that my spending patterns are greatly impacted by my dwindling amount of expendable income.
Never mind how it limits my company's ability to hire new employees or start new initiatives. Never mind that I have to work 9-5 mostly because we need health insurance so my entrepreneur husband is to continue his practice. Never mind that he and millions of small business owners like him will not be able offer health insurance to staff they might hire. I wonder what innovations America loses out on as great ideas are snuffed out by business plans that indicate the company could never survive if the business owner needs health insurance.
What I do not understand is this notion that we have choice in our current health care system. When I worked for the Federal government, I admit, I had choices. There were literally dozens of plans at varying costs and levels of coverage, one could truly choose a plan that seemed tailored to their particular medical needs. And it was dirt cheap because there was such a huge pool of people being insured, the risk to the insurance companies was spread out, allowing them to offer great coverage at truly remarkable prices and still profit.
I have never been offered real choices by any other employer. At best, I've been offered two plans from the same insurance company, usually a PPO and a high deductible plan. So my only realistic choices are to accept one of the two plans my employer can afford to offer. I don't choose the insurer - I accept the insurer my employer offers. I choose a doctor from a list the insurance company gives me. If my doctor isn't on their list, I have to determine whether I can afford to pay out of network copays, and when I cannot, I change doctors. My doctor prescribes the medications my insurance company has on their formulary. She sends me to the hospital or specialist my insurance company has designated. This is not real choice; choice in health care for average Americans is an illusion.
Having worked for some form of government all of my working life, I take issue with the notion that government can't do anything well. I've worked diligently as a public servant to be a good steward of the taxpayers' money. I've provided data that led to the cutting of contracts that weren't meeting their obligations. I've assisted contractors in improving their performance and ensured they billed and were paid only for work they actually did. I've bought my own pens and post it notes and calendars so there would be more money for programs and less admin costs and many of my dedicated coworkers did the same.
I know the private sector hasn't shown sterling performance and could list examples from Chrystler in 1980 all the up to Lehman Brothers in recent months. Private corporations fail and fail often. It just takes longer to uncover the failures buried under creative book keeping.
But a public option isn't about government taking over health care; it's about giving choices for those with no other options. It's time.