Putting a public option in the comprehensive healthcare reform bill is a stupid idea.
Note that I’m not saying that the public option is a stupid idea, nor am I saying that comprehensive reform is a stupid idea. Either or both of those things could be stupid, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m saying it’s stupid to have a comprehensive reform bill and a public option.
Here’s why: The stated purpose of the public option is to ensure that insurance companies offer quality healthcare by providing a competing option. If employees don’t like any of their private choices, they can take the public option. Because of this, a public option is a complete solution to the healthcare insurance problem. No other significant tinkering is needed.
A healthcare reform bill with a public option needs only to spell out the terms of the public option to guarantee that every American can receive that level of healthcare. It doesn’t matter what other healthcare plans are offered by employers, because if they are inadequate, the employee can always avoid them and choose the public option. And if the private plan is better than the public option, then the employee is better off by choosing it. Thus, no private plan can make an employee worse off, so there’s no need for additional regulation.
Regulation of the healthcare insurance business and a public option for healthcare insurance are two solutions to the same problem. One of them is unnecessary.