The Public Option Is Neither Public, Nor An Option

article top

When Mike Myers’ Linda Richman character would get a “little faklempt” on the Saturday Night Live skit Coffee Talk, she would give the audience a topic to discuss while she composed herself, like: “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Discuss.” If Linda were still hosting her show today, she could as accurately say about today’s health care debate: “The public option is neither public, nor an option.” Let’s discuss.

For the leftist base of the Congressional majority, the creation of a government-run health insurance company has been the defining issue of the health care debate. So, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has explained numerous times that: “The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest because there’s some competition out there.” But is this true? Would the public have more choices if a government run health insurance company was created?


Five different organizations and offices have made predictions of how many Americans could end up enrolled in the public option, including: The Lewin Group, the Congressional Budget Office, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Urban Institute, and Health Systems Innovations Network. They all tell a similar story: the number of Americans that end up in the government run plan will greatly depend on who is allowed to buy into it, and how much they have to pay.

The Lewin Group