Friday, July 03, 2009

CBO and I agree

In my recent Times article on the possibility of a public option, I wrote

An important question about any public provider of health insurance is whether it would have access to taxpayer funds. If not, the public plan would have to stand on its own financially, as private plans do, covering all expenses with premiums from those who signed up for it.

But if such a plan were desirable and feasible, nothing would stop someone from setting it up right now. In essence, a public plan without taxpayer support would be yet another nonprofit company offering health insurance. The fundamental viability of the enterprise does not depend on whether the employees are called “nonprofit administrators” or “civil servants.”

The CBO is thinking along similar lines. In its most recent letter on heath reform plans, it says
The new draft also includes provisions regarding a “public plan,” but those provisions did not have a substantial effect on the cost or enrollment projections, largely because the public plan would pay providers of health care at rates comparable to privately
negotiated rates—and thus was not projected to have premiums lower than those charged by private insurance plans in the exchanges.