Sunday, August 16, 2009

Public vs. Private

One of the many myths being spread about healthcare reform is that
private insurance companies couldn’t possibly compete with a public plan like
an expanded Medicare.  Nonsense!  Ironically what belies this myth is
just the straw man put up as proof by opponents: the Post
Office.  They prefer to cite the
Post Office, which has nothing to do with delivering health services, as an
example of the government’s inability to run anything instead of Medicare that
does, and successfully so.

Well, was there anything (probably bills) in your mailbox this
week?  Did you have any concern
about the card you sent to grandma (assuming the government hasn’t killed her)
arriving?  The fact is that the
Post Office does work.  More relevant
in the context of the current debate is that private companies (notably FedEx
and UPS) are very successfully competing with the public Post Office, this despite
their being late to the game. 
When, for example, FedEx was started, the Post Office was long
entrenched both in fact and in our minds as the primary shipper of record.  Private enterprise found
vulnerabilities in their service and capitalized (providing overnight delivery)
on them.  They have been making
money, lots of it, for most of the time since.  And guess what?  The competition has made the Post Office better.

So what makes any intelligent person believe that private insurance
companies couldn’t compete with a government insurance program?  Of course, as FedEx and UPS have shown
us, they can.  In fact, as a result
of the competition the private insurers  (like the Post Office  did) are likely to get better at what they
do and probably increase their bottom line as a result. Competition in a free market society is, we are told, a good
thing.  Do those in private
enterprise think so little of themselves that they can’t compete with anyone,
including the government?  Moreover, if the premise that Uncle Sam can’t manage things well is really true, then all
the better.  It won’t be a fair

By way of disclosure, I’m insured by Medicare and think everyone,
regardless of age, should have the option of being as well.  Without that, universal healthcare will
remain a dream not a reality.  If
you have any questions in that regard, don’t ask your member of Congress or insurance carrier,  ask
your neighbor or one of your uninsured or underinsured kids.

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