You know why I think a government-run healthcare plan will ultimately fail? Because politicians aren’t businessmen.
Politicians look at the current broken healthcare system in our country and instead of thinking like businessmen, they’re thinking like politicians. Instead of looking at the reasons the current system fails people (pre-existing conditions, immovable coverage [if you lose your job, you can’t take your coverage with you without paying crazy amounts of money for COBRA], increased rates when you get sick, etc.) and trying to improve them, they’re trying to put in place another already-broken system just to create competition. Because, as politicians, they sincerely think that’s the answer.
Let’s look at their perspective: Healthcare needs reform: more Americans need coverage, the costs have to come down. As the government, they feel it’s their responsibility to provide the kind of reform that will extend coverage and lower costs. So, they’ll create their own healthcare system and insurance plans! This will cause competition among the existing insurance companies (= lower costs) and be an affordable alternative to private plans (= extend coverage). Their system will solve everyone’s problems and eventually completely dismantle the original broken system. Mission accomplished. (Except for the small problem that their plan won’t actually lower costs and millions more Americans will lose coverage as their companies transition over to the government plan, but those are facts none of the politicians are addressing because they conflict with their selling points.)
But the fact of the matter is that insurance companies are in business to make money. That’s why they don’t provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, why your rates increase after receiving coverage. Oh, those villianous capitalists.
Granted, I’m no CEO or business owner. And I’m completely against the government forcing us to do anything. But the feds are intent on pushing some kind of legislation through whether we like it or not. So it seems to me that what they should be doing is creating incentives for insurance companies to: provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, to make their individual plans more affordable and portable so if people lose their jobs they don’t go broke paying for COBRA, etc. Incentives that still keep the industry’s bottom line in mind but also solve the problems the whole system faces. Maybe incentives already exist and don’t work? I don’t really know. I’m still thinking through this whole politicians-trying-to-operate-as-businessmen idea.
The government option won’t make any money (I’m not aware of any government-run entities that make a profit; can anyone show me some?), it’ll continue to cost taxpayers (especially wealthier taxpayers) billions and trillions of dollars, and quality of care is completely going to suffer. If the government is going to compete with businesses in the private market, they need to actually think and operate like a business. When in Rome, Mr. Obama…