Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Should liberals opt into the public plan, even if they already have insurance?

Yesterday, the 3 House committees responsible for health reform released a joint bill - the American Affordable Healthy Choices Act - that probably represents the most liberal version of whatever health reform legislation the country ultimately receives. Notably, it includes a public option, though one that the Congressional Budget Office expects to enroll only 10 million Americans by 2019.

So I've been wondering: do liberals who believe in some form of single-payer have an ethical obligation to enroll in the public plan, regardless of whether they already have health insurance, and in particular, regardless of how good that insurance is? I'm tempted to say yes, since the whole point of the public option is to compete with private insurers. If we believe that the country should have one dominant public insurer, it would seem hypocritical not to enroll in it when it comes into existence.

So now my question is: since I already have employer-provided health insurance, if I enroll in the public plan, will I have to pay my premiums out-of-pocket?

2 comments:

Jeff Epton said...

Abe, to your credit, you've raised a question that most people in your position would not even bother to ask of themselves. But here's another question: Should you support proposals to tax employer provided health care?

I'd say you should, and I should, but both of us could handle (unhappily, perhaps), the increased financial burden. The problem is that there's a boatload of others who would be tremendously burdened by such a tax.

The truth is that there is no proposed fix that addresses the fundamental problems that arise from wealth inequality in the U.S.--unless the best of the currently possible reforms are followed by renewed efforts to address the underlying issues.

In case you're interested, the characters I had to type in order to post this comment spell the word "uranoong," which, though unfamiliar to me, means, I think, unfeasible at this time.

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