Ed Weisbart, M.D., a family physician and chair of the Missouri chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, wrote an op ed for the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
The fact that the insurance industry is lobbying hard for this circuitous incremental approach should tell you all you need to know.
Sadly, many of us don’t understand the choice we’re being offered. That helps them sell the idea that having more options is always better. It’s true that we need free choice of doctors and hospitals, but insurance should disappear into the background. That’s what would happen with Medicare for All; that’s not what would happen with a public option, and the difference is all-important.
We could spend the next few years passing a public option and then wait several more years to see how it works. Ten years later, we would still be playing catch-up with the rest of the industrialized world, where health care costs half of what it does here in America and yet produces dramatically better results.
Why isn’t a public option good enough?
First, it’s missing nearly all the savings of a single-payer system. Health care insurance companies operate at 15% to 20% overhead; Medicare’s overhead is 2%. We will never reach Medicare’s efficiency by keeping today’s complex insurance industry in the mix. Never. Plus, the insurance companies’ inefficiency — as high as it is — is dwarfed by the untold time and money patients, doctors and hospitals waste in dealing with those companies.