On Health Care, Give the US Competition with a Public Option

Since the United States has been so obsessed with free markets, democracy, and business competition, it is time that the health care systems gets a good dose of competition from these United States in the form of a public health care and insurance option for any citizen or legal resident of these said States.
Given all the hysteria from various corners and pressures from lobbyists, the various Congress Critters and Administration folks seem to have lost heart and have caved to a reform bill that is unpalatable by most.
Last week while having dinner with my mostly Republican family, a hue and cry went up about health care reform. I expected various members of the family to bash Obama’s health care plan, which they did, but not for the reasons I expected. Several folks at once cried out, “What happened to the public option?”
After discussing all the various perspectives, everyone but my 89 year old Grandma agreed that the US needed a public health care option to be opened for all who wanted one. Two of my aunts agreed with me that the Irish way of public health care for all and extra private supplemental care for those who want to pay for it was an excellent way to go.
When I lived in Ireland, I purchased private supplemental health insurance from VH-1 for €10 a week, which at 2005 exchange rates worked out to be about $54 per month. This supplemental health insurance would give me a semi-private room if I ended up in a hospital plus other options for picking the doctor of my choice. Right now, I pay $297 per month to Kaiser Permanente for health care and I have no idea what my hospital coverage is if I would need it other than I have a $100/day co-pay.
I felt more confident in Ireland with the public health care and my supplemental healthcare than I do now with Kaiser. I am reluctant to go to Kaiser and in the last three years have only been 5 times in total, twice for my migraines, once for an ear ache, and twice for travel shots & booster vaccinations, otherwise I have avoided the Kaiser doctor like the plague. I have paid out of pocket to see an N.D. about my allergies & migraines, as Kaiser in SoCal does not cover ND’s although they do in their Pacific Northwest territory.
I am willing to pay out of pocket to see a doctor that is willing to explore the real causes of my migraines as the ND was and the doctor at Kaiser was not. The Kaiser doctor did not want to listen to my ideas of what I thought my migraine triggers were, but instead after 2.5 minutes prescribed a $125 co-pay medication and shuffled me out of the office. This is a minor problem to have compared to the large minority of people who do not have any health coverage or are under insured.
Let’s not even speak of all the small businesses that will never be started because folks are too afraid to lose their insurance if they leave their job to start a new business or the current small businesses who can’t afford to hire more people because they want to provide insurance but can’t afford it.
Tonight I decided that I would send emails, via their websites, to the President, my Congress Critter – Dana Rohrabacker (R-CA), and my two Senators’ Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-CA). I tailored each letter to the political type human and here is an example of what was sent:

Dear Senator Feinstein,
I am writing as I am very concerned about the health care legislation that is currently going through Congress, as it does not have a public option. I am concerned that true reform is being squelched by the insurance company lobbyists.
For a variety of reasons – humanitarian, reduce costs, increase competition, and others – we need to provide a public health care option along side of the private health insurance and health care systems currently in place.
Not only do all people within the borders of the US need access to affordable health care, but we need to keep costs down. A public option would increase competition and access.
Thank you,
Jenifer Hanen
Seal Beach, Calif.

Regardless of how your hopes and thoughts in the US health care debate, here below are some good blog posts to get one thinking, after you have done some thinking, please do write your Congress Critter:
Matt Haughey on The entrepreneurial case for national healthcare
BLDGBLOG on City of Fees and Services
William Blim of 3 Quarks Daily on Will Someone Rid Me of Private Health Insurance?
Adam Greenfield on On systems, and what they do