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Pros And Cons Of A Public Insurance Plan

June 19th, 2009

Should Americans be able to enroll in a newly created, publicly administered health insurance option as the nation works to expand health coverage? That question is at the center of the current health reform debate. It is also the subject of the latest health policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which was released today.    

Update: Watch for a new, updated brief on the public option by Health Affairs on Monday, November 9.

The new brief explains the broad outlines of public health insurance plan proposals and probes the general concerns of supporters and opponents. It is the third in a series produced by Health Affairs with support from RWJF. The free, online policy briefs provide a clear overview of front-burner health issues. Alerts for the health policy briefs are available by email and RSS feed. You may also follow Health Affairs on Twitter for new alerts.

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3 Trackbacks for “Pros And Cons Of A Public Insurance Plan”

  1. Zach's j201 Blog
    December 4th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
  2. Economics Arguments for a Public Option | The Incidental Economist
    November 5th, 2009 at 1:41 pm
  3. Results of the public opinion poll: the public option is a good one « Raising Women’s Voices
    June 22nd, 2009 at 1:37 pm

1 Response to “Pros And Cons Of A Public Insurance Plan”

  1. Ellen R. Shaffer Says:

    Health Affairs authors (Anderson, Reinhardt and others) have long documented that the high and steadily increasing cost of health care in the U.S. is attributable to higher prices – for drugs, physician fees and hospital services – despite the fact that Americans use less of all of these than our counterparts in other countries (with the exception of provider-driven technology). The administrative costs of multiple private insurance companies are also a factor. It is ironic to note that these health-related industries now suggest that competition among private insurance companies will be key to constraining their incomes, and that the main threat of a strong public plan that crowds out such competition would be greater inflation in health care costs. More likely, a stonly public insurance plan with broad standards for eligibility that uses Medicare’s reimbursement rates would provide the needed leverage to control costs, and revive the public’s eroding access to coverage and care.

    Fragmented sources of financing for health care contribute to our fragmented delivery system. No reimbursement method in itself produces the right amount of quality care. Expanding public sector coverage would help integrate and apply the information and systems needed to address both the overuse of medical services driven by fee for service reimbursement, brilliantly described most recently by Atul Gawande, and the underuse that can result from capitation or salaries. Sound proposals by Congress and the Administration to improve the delivery system, and the quality of care it provides, include incentives for health care teams, and support for primary care. They should be widely applied.

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