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Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Public Option"

Haven't written anything political in a while. Had a pleasant two week road trip to see relatives and attend a wedding Then had to get in high gear for start of new semester preparing to dispense "discount knowledge at the junior college". But I have been paying some attention to the discussions about proposed legislation on health care . Particularly the "public option".
I'm mildly surprised that one comparison has not been made. (Maybe it has and I just haven't found it on the Internet. I'm sure none of the cable and broadcast pundits have mentioned it. Nor have I seen any elected politician quoted as offering this up. So I'll lay claim to it as mine.
Proponents of "public option" plans believe that existing for-profit insurance companies would be challenged by the direct competition of a government supported plan for the uninsured and underinsured to obtain health insurance coverage. They think this competition would be good and healthy.
Opponents claim it would be unfair because the government sujpported plan would be subsidized by taxpayer funds and that private insurance plans would not be able to compete. Therefore, they claim, the private plans would wither and all that would be left would be the public option and it would be a hated "single-payer" scheme in "public option" clothing.
My comparison is this. What has happened over the course of the last 150 years or so with regard to college education? Don't we have both tax supported, subsidized colleges and purely private colleges and hybrids of private schools that accept some public money? Isn't this comparable to what it would be like with health care? Have all the private colleges been forced out of business because public and state schools are cheaper than the private colleges? I don't think so. Even at double the cost or worse of public education, many private schools get far more applicants than they can take each year.