Though the public option may not have made it into the final bill, there are those who claim that there are back-door provisions in it to reestablish it in fact, if not in name. Whether this is true or not, the fact that the public option was even proposed makes me wonder whether it will be added later or is already hidden inside somewhere.
It has been claimed that the public option would out-compete private insurance companies and in time become the sole provider of health insurance. Since buying insurance is now mandatory, this makes alternative funding schemes obsolete, and would then make the government the sole provider of health care funding. This rumor must be true for the simple reason that private insurance companies can go out of business if they fail to make a profit, whereas the government will always bail out the public option no matter how well it pays out and how little it charges (out-competing the private sector). To suggest that the government would actually allow the public option to go under if it failed to remain competitive and to go back to the way things are now and never create a new public option is to beg the question: why create it in the first place? Anybody remember Fannie Mae?
Once a government monopoly is in place and we are all dependent on it for care, we become unable to leave and look elsewhere should it fail to suit us as we do with private industry. True, political pressure through our democratic system can work to keep the public option acceptable to most of us, but what of the minority? Angering the minority is often a bad thing because we may need allies later when we find ourselves in the minority on some future issue. Government policies tend to be one-size-fits all and the electorate fights over how it should be run. This only leads to more strife. With private enterprise, each can go his/her own way and need not compromise. Associations are made only by choice. Generally, government monopolies – and the public option that will necessarily lead to it – are bad things.
Why Death Panels Might Be Real:
When resources are plentiful, health care providers are able to care for everyone. When resources are scarce, choices of triage must be made, lest all suffer. When the government becomes the sole provider of funding for the health care system, it becomes the government that must decide who will not receive treatment, and when the government is the sole provider, there is nowhere else to go if turned away. This may in some cases be a death sentence. This decision is likely to be done through a panel of some sort.
To suggest that the government would allow one to procure alternate sources of funding and/or care should the government fail to deliver is to suggest that the government would allow private enterprise. This begs the question: why eliminate it in the first place?
To suggest that one’s savings or holdings (that may be used toward health care) will not be swiped away to give to those unable to pay their bills is to suggest that we will never be forced to buy health insurance. That’s what insurance is, after all: a means by which money is taken from many (which may have been saved or invested instead) and given to the few whose bills exceed the deductable.
To suggest that the government is only interested in providing the minimum care necessary, while never restricting those able to pay from paying more, is to beg the question: why not just fix Medicaid? What guarantee is there that this new government program (the public option) will work better than the old one?
I want everyone to understand that not everyone against the new health care law is gullible and crazy, believing every rumor that comes along. The idea that it represents socialism, a government takeover of health care, and opens the door to death panels is rooted in what appears to many to be inescapable logic. In addition, there are many rumors out there, which are harder to prove – but might very well still be true!
Rumors that might be true:
Rumor One: Economist Martin Feldstein has calculated that for about the same cost as the tax breaks given to employers to provide health insurance, the government could provide every one of the uninsured with high-deductable, “catastrophic” health insurance for free. This law was never about helping the uninsured; it was about power.
Rumor Two: Because abortion is legal and generally considered a medical procedure, unless the law specifically forbids public funds being used for abortion, it allows it. Knowing this, can one in good conscience pay one’s taxes every April? Yes, Obama signed an executive order prohibiting abortion funding with public money, but it is disputed whether or not the law would override that.
Why the pro-choice should also be upset:
Understandably, the pro-life are concerned that their tax money may be used for abortions under the new health care law which is rumored to phase-out private industry and leave the government the sole provider of health care funding, but the pro-choice should also be concerned. At the moment, the democrats are in control and abortion is safe, but this will not always be. A future republican congress and president may very well pass a law prohibiting public abortion funding. If the private sector has by that time withered away, one will have to leave the country for an abortion. Isn’t it better for both camps if we simply allow the free market to work?
Rumor Three: Because insurance companies can no longer deny one for the reason of pre-existing conditions, they will develop other means of cutting costs, such as providing such poor service that one leaves for another company. Thus, all insurance companies will compete with one another to provide the poorest service possible.
Rumor Four: Once everyone is forced by law to purchase health insurance, the price of health care will rise. One of the reasons health care costs so much these days already is because when one is shielded from the direct costs of treatments or checkups, one tends to splurge more, visiting the doctor for every minor scrape or flu. Generally, a receptionist is not even able to tell the customer the prices of common procedures, because the insurance companies take care of all that behind the scenes. Not even knowing how much various procedures cost, one cannot make inexpensive choices and will tend to take anything insurance covers.
Rumor Five: Being a greater center of power than private enterprises, the federal government attracts more corruption and fraud. Medicaid is rife with it and it drives the price of health care up. Putting everyone on the public option will only worsen the problem. If those who voted on this law truly wanted to make health care more accessible, why not fix Medicaid? Why not ease costly regulations on the health care industry? Why not allow competition across state lines? After all, the constitution grants the federal government the power to regulate commerce across state lines, but not to force people to purchase health insurance. Why not enact tort reform? Why not cut taxes? The more money we have in our pocket, the more we can spend on our own health care. Why not stop printing money and cut spending? Inflation is a great potential problem for us all. This law was never about access to health care; it was about power.
Rumor Six: One of the reasons health care prices are currently so high is that we have a shortage of nurses and doctors. It takes a lot of training, and not enough is being done to bring more into the field. Adding more patients (demand) to the system as this new law does without bolstering the numbers of providers (supply) will cause a dramatic spike in prices.
Rumor Seven: Since the law makes no provision for checking documentation, it WILL cover illegal immigrants. Knowing this, more are likely to sneak in just to use our free health care (since insurance must cover pre-existing conditions). The increase in demand without the corresponding increase in funding (either through taxes or insurance payments – remember, the undocumented can’t pay taxes) will cause a dramatic increase in prices.
Rumor Eight: There is a story circulating that in another country with government-run health care, there was a man who, while not injured seriously enough to be moved to the front of the line, was in great pain. No one would give him painkillers – because it was not his turn. He offered to buy them – but, being a free service, they had no idea how to do that – and there was nowhere else for him to go.
Rumor Nine: Supposedly, there is a provision in the health care law that forbids changing health care providers (or it might be insurance providers) unless one switches to the public option. Over time, as insurance companies go under or become less desirable, or people move to a new state, this will slowly dump everyone onto the public option at the same time as it stifles competition by keeping out newcomers. This means we are stuck with the same old companies who in part got us into this mess and have little incentive to improve.
Rumor Ten: As is always a problem with having too much regulation, the entirety of this law will remain a mystery to many of those expected to follow it. This will lead to numerous violations and disputes over interpretation. The lawyers will have a field day. As always, those who can afford better lawyers will have a better chance of getting off.
Rumor Eleven: Supposedly, there is a provision in the health care law that stipulates that preference must be given to those of racial minorities when providing certain funding (I think for education-related stuff).