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Op-Ed

Comments on the development of a public health insurance option

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Editor's Note:

This analysis is part of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, which is a partnership between Economic Studies at Brookings and the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. The Initiative aims to inform the national health care debate with rigorous, evidence-based analysis leading to practical recommendations using the collaborative strengths of USC and Brookings. USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative research on the prices of health care services is supported by Arnold Ventures.

Matthew Fiedler and Loren Adler provided comments in response to a request for information on the design of a public health insurance option from the chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The letter argues that the principal rationale for introducing a public option is that it could pay health care providers less than existing private plans while still ensuring adequate access to care; the letter also briefly discusses the tradeoffs involved in reducing provider prices, as well as other policies that have the potential to reduce provider prices. The remainder of the letter responds to the Committees’ specific questions about the design of a public option, including who should be eligible to enroll, how the public option should pay providers and ensure provider participation, and how the public option’s benefit design should be structured.

Read the full comment here.

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