July 31, 2019 | Updates

Partnership In Journal: Public Option Would ‘Drive Up Premiums’ & ‘Lead To One-Size-Fits-All System’

WASHINGTON – In a new opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, Lauren Crawford Shaver of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future explains that a new government insurance system, often called the “public option,” would “lead to a one-size-fits-all health-care system that would cause patients to pay more and wait longer for worse care.”  She writes:

By design, a public option would cause major disruptions to the marketplace where consumers currently choose coverage that meets their needs, driving up premiums for Americans on private plans and forcing more and more people into the government system until it is the only option that remains.
Research revealed that under one such system U.S. hospitals would be hit with $62 billion in cuts that “would compound financial stresses they are already facing, potentially impacting access to care and provider quality.”  This diminished access to quality care would come as hospitals are forced to lay off health-care professionals, scale back specialized care programs or even close their doors.
Instead of promoting a risky government insurance system like a “public option,” our leaders should focus on constructive steps that build on what is working in health care, improve affordability and access and fix what is broken today.  Incidentally, this is the approach favored by most Americans, including most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Echoing these warnings, The New York Times reports this week that the “public option may well threaten the A.C.A. in unexpected ways.”

A government plan, even a Medicare buy-in, could shrink the number of customers buying policies on the Obamacare markets, making them less appealing for leading insurers, according to many health insurers, policy analysts and even some Democrats … [A] buy-in shift in insurance coverage could profoundly unsettle the nation’s private health sector, which makes up almost a fifth of the United States economy.  Depending on who is allowed to sign up for the plan, it could also rock the employer-based system that now covers some 160 million Americans … Siphoning off such a large group of customers could also lead to a 10 percent increase in premiums for the remaining pool of insured people, according to the Blue Cross analysis.  More younger people with expensive medical conditions have enrolled than insurers expected, and insurers would have to increase premiums to cover their costs, Mr. Haltmeyer said.  Tricia Neuman, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies insurance markets, said a government buy-in that attracted older Americans could indeed raise premiums for those who remained in the A.C.A. markets, especially if those consumers had high medical costs … Dr. David Blumenthal, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that funds health care research, said a government plan that attracted people with expensive conditions could prove costly.  “You might, as a taxpayer, become concerned that they would be more like high-risk pools,” he said.



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