My August 5th post on single-payer health care outlined why I thought single-payer health care ought to pass and become America’s new health system.  Its now appearing obvious that American legislators are in bed enough with insurance companies to make any important reform let alone the revolutionary change to single-payer health care difficult.  A Business Week cover article from August 6th, called “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” begins with an assertion in their first page that insurance companies will emerge more profitable regardless of any likely outcome.  It is the combination of Blue Dog and moderate democrats with republicans that is so quick to sell out American citizens for their corporate taskmasters. 

Representative Jim Matheson from Utah and Representative Mike Ross from Arizona, opposing progress and affordable health for millions on behalf of the Blue Dogs and corporations, are working to thwart any proposal which would set up a public option to compete with the private sector, a major component of the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce costs among the private sector.  The perspective of the leaders of the Blue Dogs can be easily seen.  Ross had been bought completely by UnitedHealth, stating that “”If United has something to offer on cutting costs, we should consider it.  We need more examples that work, and everything should be on the table.””  Ross wants everything on the table, and he’s worried about cutting costs in the health insurance industry.  What compassion!  Yet he also says that “We have concerns about a public option if it’s not done on a level playing field [with the insurance companies]”. 

Ross seems sincere, right?  I mean, he’s so concerned about everyone that he wants to help us all and help insurance companies, because they sure have been hurting in these hard, hard times. 

The National Coalition on Health Care states:

National Health Care Spending

  • In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012.1 Health care spending is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.
  • Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
  • In 2008, the United States will spend 17 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.
  • Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In other words, Americans spend more than anywhere else despitethe fact that 46 million are uninsured.  Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO reports that “profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage.”  You know, now that I think about it, maybe Ross and the blue dogs are more concerned with sacrificingAmericans for insurance companies than he is about being fair to everyone.  He actually bragged about how the Blue Dogs “held the [health care] bill hostage in committee for 10 days” and prevented consideration of a single-payer health care option, as reported by the Huffington Post. 

It appears that the major argument given by the opposition (Blue Dogs and republicans) to every sane and reasonable healthcare plan (those with public options) is that the creation of a public option, competing with private insurers, would underprice them and drive them out of business.  Then again, if they are so concerned with cutting costs and putting everything on the table, what difference does it make?  In other words, a public option can reduce prices for Americans in a way that private insurance either can’t or won’t.  Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance because they cannot afford it (I assume there can be no other reason).  Despite that, the Blue Dogs oppose any public option because of its increased ability to make healthcare. . . affordable?  Seriously, their primary objection is that public options will be able to lower their price to such affordable levels that, it is estimated (although controversially) that “88 million people, or 56% of those withemployer-provided coverage, would desert private insurance for a government-run program.”  If private insurers could not compete with a public option, isn’t that a sign that the public option is vastly superior to the private insurers?  I mean, I thought that sound logic went something like this:  “Millions of Americans can’t afford Option A.   Option B costs waaaayyyyless than Option A ever could, with the same coverage.  Because they could afford B waaayyyyy more than A, they’d probably switch from A to B because they like it more.  Consequentially, we should endorse B.”  The ‘argument’ given for supporting private insurers which, even according to the terms of the argument, are wholly unable to meet American needs, is that a public option, undercutting private ones in price, “would destabilize the marketplace and potentially kill the private insurance industry”. 

I suppose the correct response is “Who cares?”  Even those arguing for private insurers and againstpublic options do so from the premise that public options have greater potentiality to be affordable, so there is no reasonable objection to public options.  The healthinsurance industry is already in an oligopoly state in the market, and so arguments that a public option would destroy the competition are meaningless.  It’s not a competitive industry.  It’s massive profit margins and insufficient coverage are results of its lack of a need to be competitive.  Someone concerned withcompetition should welcome a public competitor, and realize that the true result of competition, that private insurers unable to compete might go out of business, is fine.  As for me, I’d rather have Americans have an affordable public option than a number of high priced private options.  We deserve to be able to afford the surgeries and medical care we need.  We deserve to not have to watch our sick children wither and die from our inability to pay for treatments.  We deserve to not have to choose between our children dying now because we can’t afford treatments, and our children dying later because the treatments put us permanently in debt.  We finally deserve democratic say over these issues, and if we have representatives we deserve those who will consider their citizens, rather than lie to their faces about the options before them, and stab them in the back with UnitedHealth’s knife. Stop protecting private insurers from competition!  Stop sacrificing American health for the profits of your capitalist friends! 

My post: https://practicalutopian.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/on-single-payer-health-care/

Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm 

NCHC: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

AFL-CIO: http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/05/27/health-insurance-profits-soar-as-industry-mergers-create-near-monopoly/

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