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Polls: Wide Support For Public Option Healthcare

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, the fierce debate over President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul is on just about everyone’s lips, if not it should be because if you think health care reform doesn’t impact you, it’s time to tune into the debate.

One goal of health care reform is making sure that everyone can get health insurance, including young people. About 30% of Americans ages 19-24 don’t have insurance, and one in seven teens doesn’t have insurance, says Claire Brindis, Director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco.

Many young people aren’t covered by their parents’ health plans, don’t get insurance at work, can’t afford to buy insurance or simply don’t think they’ll get sick. But if you get sick or injured when you’re uninsured, you might not get the medical care you need or you may go into debt because of medical bills. Cutting through the health care jargon isn’t easy. At the center of the debate is something called ‘public option’.

You may have heard debate about whether a “public option” should be included in health reform. The public option is health insurance run by the government, says Melissa Rodgers, Associate Director of the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic and Family Security.

A public health insurance plan would be one option for people who don’t have insurance, or don’t have insurance that covers their medical needs, Rodgers says. No one would be forced to participate in the public plan. A public plan can do things the private insurance market can’t, like make sure that everyone gets access to affordable healthcare, she says.

Expanding health insurance to cover all Americans is a major part of health reform, Brindis says.

Other important goals are making sure that people who do have insurance can keep it and lowering the costs of providing health care.

Despite fierce opposition from many conservatives, Democrats’ are showcasing growing confidence that they have the public and party support plus the votes to pass a far reaching healthcare bill which includes a provision allowing the government to create an insurance plan to be offered to Americans who do not get medical insurance through their employers.  Stay tuned!

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