Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. argues that a new public health insurance plan "provides the best hope of holding down the costs of universal coverage" ("A Presidential Prescription," June 30). To the contrary. A government insurance plan is more likely to raise the cost of health care for many Americans.
Just look at the government's existing public plans - Medicare and Medicaid. Both systematically underpay doctors and hospitals by as much as 20 percent. Health providers shift those unpaid costs onto private payers. In fact, the average family of four pays an extra $1,788 each year in insurance premiums because of low reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. A new public option would exacerbate such cost-shifting.
Executive Vice President and CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters