Since it seems likely that the Democrat’s health nationalization plan will include the so-called “public option,” I wanted to put down a number of questions that need to be asked to determine if the public plan would be competing fairly with real insurance companies, or if it is, as it seems, a stealth attempt to slowly build a single-payer regime. [I will probably miss some, so feel free to add to this in the comments.]
- Will the public plan receive a subsidy? In other words, will non-members be taxed to benefit this one plan’s customers?
- Will the public plan pay the same corporate taxes and tax rates as other insurance companies?
- Will the public plan be subject to the same patchwork of state regulations as every other insurance company, or will it play by its own rules?
- Will the employees of the plan participate in any government employee programs, be subject to public union rules, or benefit from public employee bargaining?
- Will the public plan share any HR, purchasing, or other infrastructure with existing federal agencies? Will it build or acquire its own office or offices, and will it pay for its own utility and IT usage?
- Will the public plan be subject to any existing marketing restrictions?
- Will public officials be allowed to advocate for the public plan over private competitors? Will public health organizations steer customers toward the public option?
- Will the public plan be subject to the same financial reporting requirements?
If Obama and the other Democrats are telling the truth when they say that they are not trying to dismantle the health insurance industry, I hope they’ll use this as a guide to what they should avoid. As I think I have made it obvious, it would be very easy to accidentally give a substantial advantage to a public option, and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to do that. Alternatively, disinterested observers in the media (of which there are many, as we know) could use this as a checklist to see whether the Democrats’ rhetoric is matching the reality of their legislation.