Bernie Sanders just endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Hillary returned the favor by endorsing Sanders’ vision for healthcare reform – socialized medicine. Not to be outdone, President Obama also endorsed the same move.
To be sure, none of the above actually used the politically incorrect term “socialized medicine,” but no one should be fooled, nevertheless.
The language of this change is called the “public option.” If you’ve followed the birth and development of ObamaCare since 2009, as I have, then you recognize this option as something the architects of ObamaCare tried to push through in the original legislation. But even the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress couldn’t stomach this idea so it was stripped from the final legislation.
The Public Option
The Public Option was an attempt to create a publically financed (taxpayers) alternative to the privately run insurance industry. In other words, the government would set up its own insurance plans to compete with those plans offered by private insurance. Consumers could then compare plans and choose the one they wanted.
Since the Public Option plans would be backed up by taxpayers, any shortfalls due to low premiums that didn’t cover actual expenses would be bailed out by the taxpayers. Even the Democrats in Congress rejected such an idea since it was clear this would only lead to higher taxes for everyone – and the demise of the insurance industry.
In other words, a Public Option would eventually lead to a complete takeover of healthcare by the government and the elimination of private insurance. That is called single-payer healthcare, to use the more politically correct term – or socialized medicine, to be more honest.
Single-payer healthcare describes Canadian healthcare and parts of the United Kingdom. It means all the bills are paid by the government. The only distinction between that and socialized medicine, like our VA system, is that the doctors are not employees of the government and the hospitals are not owned and managed by the government.
This system has always been the goal of liberal progressives like Obama, Clinton, and Sanders. Other Democratic leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are also on the record as favoring single-payer healthcare. The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is that it has been politically impossible to accomplish – even with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
President Obama recently wrote an op-ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which he hailed the achievements of ObamaCare and restated his interest in the Public Option. “Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers” which he believes will “deliver care more cost-effectively” and help “areas of the country where competition is limited.”
Hillary Clinton’s solution to the unaffordable Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is to put caps on out-of-pocket spending and revive the Public Option. Bernie Sanders calls this “Medicare for all.” All of these calls for “fixing ObamaCare” will lead to the same final solution – complete government takeover of healthcare.
Although the Public Option never was approved in the final legislation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there was approval of trial plans. The ACA created Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs), charted and regulated by the states, to appease disgruntled advocates of single-payer and “public option” models in the health reform debate when these ideas were scrapped from the final bill. (For more on this subject see my earlier post Co-Ops More Evidence of ObamaCare Failure.)
The Wall Street Journal editorial board now reports that of the original 24 Co-Ops created, only nine remain functioning while the other fifteen have already gone bankrupt. Most of those nine are living on borrowed time.
The Inevitable Outcome
Which brings me to the inevitable outcome of any revival of the Public Option. If the government creates a Public Option, they will underprice the premiums to attract consumers, thereby eliminating the private insurance companies. Since the underpriced premiums will not cover the actual expenses, one of two situations must occur:
- Taxes will rise to cover the shortfall
- Access to healthcare will decline to lower expenses
Some may say they might be willing to tolerate higher taxes for better healthcare. Unfortunately that won’t be enough. In all of the countries currently providing single-payer or socialized medicine systems (Canada, Great Britain, Sweden), government costs are controlled by limiting access to healthcare.
Don’t be fooled! A Clinton administration in 2017 will lead us to socialized medicine – which will mean long waits to obtain healthcare – no matter what your level of income.