The Democrats and Pushing the Health Plan

Well the question remains will the Democrats be able to push their new health plan and while the fat lady has still not sang, the signs are making it look very unlikely. The estimated amount of Americans under the age of 65 who would sign up for the public option plan rather than a private insurance carrier is 2%.

Given this statistic, perhaps insurance companies have less to worry about than was once expected. Drew Altman, the president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation last week:

“The public option is a significant issue, but its place in the debate is completely out of proportion to its actual importance to consumers. It has sucked all the oxygen out of the room and diverted attention from bread-and-butter consumer issues, such as affordable coverage and comprehensive benefits.”

In order to prevent the government-run option from piling more onto the federal deficit, most uninsured people will have to wait until 2013 for federal help. And even then, some will have to pay a significant share of their own health care costs.

The Congressional Budget Office the nonpartisan economic analyst for lawmakers, said that the scaled back government plan in the House bill would not actually overtake private health insurance, even conceptually. And in fact it might even help insurance companies.

The 2% of Americans under 65 who would actually sign up for the government option makes up 6 million out of 282 million Americans in the wide age group.

The fact is that the majority of the population would remain in private health insurance plans sponsored by employers; and low-income people, would be covered through an expanded Medicaid program.

Actually most people would not have access to the new public plan. Under the House bill, it the government option would be open only to those who buy coverage on their own or work for small companies. Still, even within that pool of 30 million people, only 1-in-5 would take the public option.

Economist Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said;

“The concern was that the public option would destabilize the bulk of private insurance, but in fact what Congress has fashioned is very targeted. It’s not going to be taking away the insurance industry’s core business.”

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