Is health insurance for all realistic?

Published 6:36 pm Friday, October 23, 2009

Health insurance for all: That’s not too much to expect in the world’s richest nation. Nor is it too much to expect of Congress, which desperately needs to shed its image of intransigence and incompetence.

The bill that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week would leave an estimated 17 million citizens and legal residents uninsured. Eight million illegal residents would also remain uninsured. …

But it’s not good enough. Universal coverage is the fundamental requisite for health care reform. Aside from the moral imperative, economics demands covering everyone.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Insurance is sharing risk. The more people who are sharing the risk, especially the more young and healthy people who don’t need a lot of expensive care, the lower the cost for everyone. …

The Baucus plan does some good things, including requiring insurance companies to sell all customers the same policy and ending industry practices that deny care for spurious reasons.

It falls short in holding down insurance costs because there’s no public option to compete with private insurers.

… It seems to us, though, that the public option is a more streamlined way to achieve reform’s goals than a new bureaucracy to police 50 state insurance markets to be sure that insurers aren’t illegally


denying coverage and cherry-picking customers.

A self-supporting public option would keep insurers honest by injecting real competition into the market. This would help make universal coverage affordable, while insurers would profit from an influx of millions of new customers.

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader