Sick, Sad World

I wrote recently that I was worried that without a public insurance option in a health reform bill, “we could be left with a system that ‘solves’ the health care crisis by guaranteeing everyone access to expensive, crappy coverage.” Now Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi has explained in terrifying detail why this is exactly what will happen. For example, check this out:

If your employer does not offer acceptable coverage, you then have the right to go into one of the state-run insurance “exchanges,” where you can select from a number of insurance plans, including the public option.

There’s a flip side, though: If your employer offers you acceptable care and you reject it, you are barred from buying insurance in the insurance “exchange.” In other words, you must take the insurance offered to you at work. And that might have made sense if, as decreed in the House version, employers actually had to offer good care. But in the Senate version passed by the HELP committee, there is no real requirement for employers to provide any kind of minimal level of care. On the contrary, employers who currently offer sub-par coverage will have their shitty plans protected by a grandfather clause. Which means …

“If you have coverage you like, you can keep it,” says Sen. Sanders. “But if you have coverage you don’t like, you gotta keep it.”

Extra bonus points to Tiabbi for summing up the Republican argument that a public plan would be unfair to private insurance companies because they need to lard up their premiums enough to rake in a profit: “This is a little like complaining that Keanu Reeves was robbed of an Oscar just because he can’t act.”