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To hear Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander tell it, a government-run health care program will be the ruination of America. It will not only run for-profit insurers out of business, but it will put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor.
Let's forget, for a moment, that Lamar probably hasn't talked to many doctors lately. There's been a bureaucrat between you and your doctor for years now. He or she just works for your insurance company, not the government. But they've been telling your doctor what he can and can't do for years. And has been doing it a more costly and inefficient way. The average for-profit insurer burns through 27 percent of its money on administrative costs. The average government program: A mere 12 percent.
You could also make the argument that running for-profits out of business is good for American workers. All that paper-shuffling work will remain, which means the jobs merely shift from insurers to government, which generally offers better pay, benefits and vacation time. The only real losses will be due to efficiency and a chopping of the executive ranks. But we're guessing you were never really happy about paying that $3 million CEO salary anyway.
In the end, private insurers will remain, if only to service people who want auxiliary, specialized or Cadillac policies. But to hear Lamar, fellow Republicans, and many Democrats in Congress tell it, we somehow owe a debt to the people responsible for the inefficiency and high cost in our health care system.
Do you buy this? Does anyone outside Congress?