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New Report: Public Insurance Option Needed to Provide Affordable, Quality Health Coverage
Date:12/17/2008

Health Care Reform Debate Centers on Public Insurance Choice; Report Shows Public Plan Essential to Contain Costs, Improve Quality and Drive Value

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new public health insurance plan that competes directly with private insurers is essential to controlling health care costs and improving the quality of care, according to a new report released today by the Institute for America's Future and the UC Berkeley School of Law's Center on Health, Economic & Family Security. The report, by health care expert and UC Berkeley professor Jacob Hacker, says a public health insurance plan like Medicare offered together with private health plans could result in $1 trillion in national savings over ten years by driving down costs, improving efficiencies and fostering innovation.

President-elect Obama, his health care point person Tom Daschle, Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucusand House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., have all embraced the idea of adding a public plan to help fix the ailing health care system, but the insurance industry opposes a public option. New data in today's report provides fresh ammunition to this debate by showing how a public plan can maintain lower costs over time while providing broad, guaranteed and quality coverage.

Dr. Hacker released the report on a conference call with reporters today noting that the clearest evidence of the savings produced by a public plan is its premiums.

"Premiums with a public plan cost about three-quarters the amount private insurers charge for the same set of benefits," said Hacker. "It's an essential element to any national health care reform proposal."

Hacker said that private plans operating without public insurance competition have been unable to contain spiraling health care costs
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SOURCE Institute for America's Future
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