A Public Option and Employer Insurance.

A new poll shows that a majority of the public supports a public option, and it’s time for lawmakers to listen. When Senators like Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch inveigh against a government-provided insurance option, we all know on whose behalf they’re speaking. But the problem is some of their constituents believe the nonsense about a public option limiting choice for Americans. The Republicans argue that when President Barack Obama says you can keep the health insurance you have if you like it, he’s not telling the truth. But the real truth is that nothing guarantees you can keep the insurance you have anyway.

Because of rising costs, employees were losing their employer-based insurance before,which is what helped spark this call to reform. Employers are also forcing their employees to contribute more money to crappier plans that then ask for even more out-of-pocket payments if you ever use them to go to the doctor. That’s why the number of uninsured Americans kept growing year after year. The Kaiser Family Foundation tells us that’s likely to keep happening without reform.

One of those crappy, high-deductible plans for which I still have to contribute a sizable percent of my income is what I’ll be struggling to afford next year. I’m going to change insurance companies for the fourth time in two years. The first change was my “fault;” I changed employers and moved to a different state. The other changes came when my company was sold and bought, and then bought again. Now, my new owner has decided the health care plan I elected is too expensive. If I want to keep my doctors on the new plan and they’re not in the network, there’s a good chance my insurance will only cover 85 percent of “reasonable and customary” costs. Is there a list of what the company considers “reasonable” for different types of treatments or procedures? No. I’m sure whatever I face next year, I can count on a confusing bill to follow.

This is what’s frustrating to me about the right’s claims of personal choice and responsibility in the health care debate. I’m pretty trapped with whatever new plan my new employer wants to implement. And it doesn’t feel like choice.

  • ladyfresh

    We may have misunderstand ‘choice’ Quad. Its not ‘our’ choice persay in insurance, it’s our companies choice. Our ‘choice’ the argument may follow comes in choosing the company we work for…which in this economic climate the over abundance is mind boggling…

    our choice when unemployed? well to find a new job…

    see how simple that was?

  • aisha

    I can’t say it enough. People need to know how it all works right now. People can’t decide what is better for them because they don’t know how it work now. The complication is also everyone is thinking about what is better for them right now. Many aren’t thinking about what would be good for them if their cirsumstances change.

  • KBJr.

    So the answer to being trapped by employer-based insurance is to be trapped by government-run insurance? Do we really believe ambiguous wording will not exist when we’re under the umbrella of government bureaucracy?

    I agree, I think employer-based health insurance plans are a disaster. But I fervently believe any kind of “public option” is a mistake (especially if what they eventually pass is a quasi-reform, reform bill). There are alternatives to this problem which aren’t being debated or discussed (because the argument is being wrongly framed as public option vs. doing-nothing)…

    No one is talking about eliminating state borders on purchasing health plans. No one is talking about tort reform. No one is talking about publicly owned emergency rooms which would serve the financially-strapped. No one is talking about entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity…we’re arguing for an increase in an already cash-less, credit-less, credibility-less government. One that hasn’t yet even perfected the 40-year-old Medicare program, which will be broke in no time.

    Here’s an idea…why not allow people to do with their money, what they want to do with their money. Instead of requiring employer-based insurance (i.e. taking money from your check) and continuing the (in my opinion) unconstitutional pay-roll tax (again, i.e. taking money from your check)…how about we give folks their money back, let them prioritize whether they want to opt into buying health insurance or not, and go from there?

    After that, think about regulating the insurance companies to dissuade abuse and putting in place other initiatives to continue reform. And how about fixing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security!

    The debate should not be framed as a two-way, either/or solution. There are a range of options, and I think we do each other a great disservice when we allow petty partisanship cloud progress.