Health Care Public Option Explained (Thank you, George Will)

Posted on June 28, 2009


Wordsmith George Will, the venerable arch-conservative newspaper columnist, has made some astute observations about the economics of health insurance.

Note that Mr. Will is arguing against the proposed “public option” as an alternative to private health insurance. 

“Competition from the public option must be unfair because government does not need to make a profit and has enormous pricing and negotiating powers. Besides, unless the point of a government plan is to be cheaper, it is pointless.”

Right on, Brother George. It appears that you have stumbled onto the reasons that President Barack Obama and a decisive majority of the American people are in favor of a public-option health insurance plan.

Brother George is suggesting that a government health insurance plan would be less expensive than private health insurance. He gives two obvious reasons for the lower cost of government health insurance: government doesn’t have to make a profit, and government could bring prices down by negotiating volume discounts.

As Brother George acknowledges, the “the point of a government plan is to be cheaper.”

So let me get this straight, Brother George.

  1. You’re against a public health insurance option because it would bring the cost of health insurance down?
  2. You think it’s more important to protect the profits and inefficiencies of private insurance companies than it is to make health insurance affordable to ordinary people?
  3. You haven’t heard that rising heath care costs threaten to ruin the American economy?

You’ve got one thing right, Brother George. “The point of a government plan is to be cheaper.” I think that’s what Barack Obama and the American people have in mind. — Bernie Hayden