stockingfull wrote:What's the diff between that and "private gov't"?
The difference is one is ruled by open market competition and the other is forced on you.
. . . Lisa
Wrong on both counts, Lisa. Had there truly been "open market competition" up to now, the insurance companies wouldn't have been able to drive good hospitals out of business and docs out of network -- or practice -- as they undeniably have in the past 15-20 yrs since gaining control of the patient market. Don't forget: the HMO's don't exist to provide care to you, they exist to earn profit in order to pay dividends to their shareholders. While the concept of "open competition" in that context may have merit, "mischief" develops in the execution when the initial savings have been earned and costs start to rise. Then they start denying authorization for procedures, and challenging conditions as "pre-existing," and auditing insureds for non-family members hanging on, and chiseling providers on payments, and raising co-pays, and raising premiums, and on and on. And they quickly realize, whether they're technically violating our anti-trust laws or not, that if "the whole industry" does it, the whole industry can get away with it. That's the fundamental problem with the "free market": it's not a free market at all.
Which brings us to your other misconception. The "public option" (which, as I understand it, is akin to allowing people to "buy in" to Medicare, or something like it) will be just that: an OPTION. It'll be there for people who want it, but you won't have to enroll in it and, if you do enroll, you won't have to stay in it indefinitely. It may be more helpful to think of it as a "citizens' healthcare co-operative," or like an HMO that's been taken over by an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) and run as a not-for-profit corporation, all savings and efficiencies being for the benefit of the patient-shareholders.
Bottom line: anytime you don't like either the cost or the service or the claims-handling in the "public option," you can go back out into the private marketplace and buy private health insurance again, if you can find something better. Much more likely, there will be "supplemental" programs offered by the private market for some of the things that have been mentioned here (as though only the gov't programs have ever denied them), like hip-replacements for the very elderly, etc., just like now happens in the Medicare system.
But what makes no sense at all is the completely imaginary notion that for-profit private corporations deliver better healthcare than a not-for-profit entity whose efficiencies inure to the benefit of the insureds, instead of the shareholders. By definition, it simply cannot be true.