I just had a few quick observations about the recent advertising campaign by the health insurance industry. It seems that industry is spending millions of dollars in an attempt to stop the public option in health care. I find this interesting given the fact that some people think a government-run healthcare system would be inefficient and poorly run. (The fact that Medicare is FAR more efficient than ANY for-profit insurance company seems lost on these individuals, but that’s another topic.)
First of all, the fact that the insurance industry even HAS millions of dollars lying around to shell out for a massive advertising campaign (to say nothing of additional millions to lobby congress and to contribute to political campaigns) should tell you something in and of itself. Second, it seems to me the fact the insurance industry even feels the need to squash a public option is a de facto admission of defeat. In other words, the for-profit insurance industry is, in effect, admitting beforehand they would be unable to compete against a public option. Otherwise, why would they be fighting so hard to eliminate it before it even comes to fruition?
And one of the truly laughable things about the anti-public-option ads is that they’re raising the specter of government interference in one's medical care! As if the private insurance companies haven’t been doing that for years! For all the talk about mythical “death panels”, how many times have you heard about doctor-ordered tests and therapies being denied by insurance companies?
In fact, I know personally of a surgeon who was about to amputate the leg of a patient. When the surgery was about to begin, the surgeon realized there was a chance he could save the patient’s leg. So that’s what he did. The surgery was successful and the patient was able to make a full recovery, leg intact. So what was the surgeon’s reward? He caught hell from the patient’s insurance company because the insurance was willing to cover an amputation but didn’t want to pay for the surgery that saved the patient’s leg.
The surgeon was so disgusted by this he retired from the field of medicine.
I think the public option should be a central part of any health reform plan. If the for-profit insurance companies can do a better job, then people will choose them. If not, let them go out of business. In a nation as wealthy as ours, health care should be a right. And if a government-run health care plan is the best way to secure that right, we should demand it.