A Medicare-Style Public Option in Healthcare Would Kill Private Insurance

What works in higher education won't work in healthcare.

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Congress should consider reforms that will build on what already works in the American system. Here are few ideas:

First, Congress should make it easier for people to buy insurance. For a family attempting to get coverage, state regulations drive up the cost. In regulation-heavy New York, as an example, a family of four would pay $12,000 a year for coverage; in Wisconsin, a similar policy would be just $3,000. Why not allow people to buy policies across state lines? Not only would this save money, but it would help insure millions of uninsured—roughly 12 million, according to an analysis by University of Minnesota's Stephen Parente and Roger Feldman.

Second, Congress should make it easier for small companies to provide coverage. An easy reform: Allow companies to band together and purchase health insurance collectively. Some estimates suggest that this one regulatory change could shave a third off the cost of plans for some employers. For organizations like the Manhattan Institute, the advantage would not only be lower costs, but it could help provide its employees with more options.

Third, Congress should address the tax code's discrimination against the self-employed. Today, people who get their health insurance from the workplace get huge tax advantages; the self employed don't. Congress should level the playing field, making health insurance more affordable for the fastest growing segment of our workforce.

These initiatives would create a more competitive and affordable market for health insurance—increasing our choices, not killing them.

  • Read the public option debate between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Mike Enzi.
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  • Corrected on : Dr. David Gratzer is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of
    The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care.