Rethinking Healthcare

Public option argument over and government own

Posting in Government

Private health insurance is rapidly pricing itself out of the market. Government is now the largest buyer of health care services by far.

The argument over whether people will use a public option is over.

Almost 30% of us do. And the number is rising.

The Wall Street Journal reports that over 87 people got their health care through the government in 2008, citing Census Bureau figures. Kaiser Health News expects the number to rise substantially when 2009 figures are released.

The growth is coming from Medicaid and State Childrens Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), and is fueled by the faltering economy.

Despite this the number of uninsured also continues to grow, according to the report.  The Census figure was 46.7 million, although the President only claimed 30 million on Wednesday, removing all those who might be in the country illegally.

In terms of economics, private health insurance is rapidly pricing itself out of the market. While some analysts say the trends make it harder to strike a deal, given the increased government burdens, the numbers also move insurers toward the table, because a mandate would mean more customers and more revenue.

There is another hard fact. The government is now the largest buyer of health care services by far.

A failure or refusal to pass health reform won't change any of this. Republicans refusing to vote for reform are betting taxpayers would rather kill Medicare and Medicaid under financial pressure, when it comes to that in a very few years

That's a big bet on the 19th century. (Picture of 19th century Belgian poverty from Ancestry.com)

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure