• Health, Insurance

Guided by principles? Heather Graham? Wall Street?

Have you seen MoveOn's latest video in support of a public option? Heather Graham (playing the public option in a pair of running shoes) sure looks good compared to all those big, lazy insurance companies. You can tell she's different, and as the voice-over tells us, "a public option is the key to quality, affordable health care for Americans." The video argues that a public option would encourage healthy competition that's good for consumers. But that's not all! Really, a public option isn't just any competition, it's a totally different kind of insurance company. What does that difference look like? Here's an excerpt of something we wrote recently:

Whether it’s a public plan, health insurance cooperatives, social-purpose insurance companies, or some combination of the three, there should be plans in the private market that seek to cover people, not maximize profit.

When the goal of a company is to cover people, it makes radically different decisions than one driven to make profits for its shareholders. We can speak first-hand about the differences. For one, traditional insurers often try to eliminate the sickest, most at-risk from their pool of enrollees. Our goal, on the other hand, is to keep people in the group, no matter their health status. So whereas a traditional insurer might cut a plan or benefit that attracts less healthy people, we try to find the right balance of benefits and pricing to keep people on the plan and work to subsidize their costs in other ways. For example, we may decide to take on more actuarial risk to keep prices down and keep people insured.

Maybe Ms. Graham's next collaboration with MoveOn can feature her not just running fast, but developing good form and best practices? We'd be happy to train along with her.