Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Private health insurance

Just to clarify the record, there are two types of private health products. There is health insurance, where individual facilities and medical personnel are contracted with to provide health care services to owners of specific health insurance plans, and there are health care packages where organizations operate their own health care facilities (clinics and hospitals), employ their own medical personnel and are usually referred to as Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s). Kaiser is probably the largest of these.

The current national discussion about health care focuses on the possibility of the government becoming a major player by developing a means for all Americans to obtain health care coverage. The fear from the private sector is that government will offer a health plan the private sector can’t match and put them all out of business.

Accordingly, the criticism so far has been directed at raising fears in the general public that government can’t operate efficiently and will just cost more tax money and destroy private health businesses without providing quality health care.

Government response so far has consisted mostly of saying, “No we won’t” and retreating into waiting for legislation to be initiated.

Why hasn’t government challenged the private sector to participate in the discussion by offering a wide array of private options that would make health care available to all Americans?

In that way it would become obvious where the private sector was willing to participate and where they aren’t. Government could then take care of those that the private sector isn’t prepared to serve.

To avoid letting the private sector pass off to the government responsibility for covering the poor and elderly, (current Medicaid and Medicare) certain parameters of service would have to be developed to protect these two groups. There would be disagreements but eventually some “rules of the game” would develop.

If the private sector is flexible and innovative they should be able to better the government’s plans. If they can’t, then let them compete with government offerings.

The devil is in the details but you have to start talking about the issue in general before the details begin to immerge. Just throwing rocks at each other isn’t discussion.

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