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What is Public Option Health Care?

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on

Healthcare reform has been stealing the spotlight like a shotgun celebrity wedding. With headlines abuzz, you may be wondering about one of the terms that has been getting the most play, public option health care. 

You've heard President Obama mention it, but what exactly is public option health care?  Read on to get in the know.

Public option is proposed healthcare reform that would give individuals and employers a choice between government-provided healthcare--in a system run similarly to Medicare--or private healthcare. It is a kind of hybrid system between single-payer, or universal, healthcare and the current system serviced primarily by private insurance companies. 

The White House reports that the current system of healthcare ran a tab of $2.2 trillion in 2007, coming out to about $7500 per person, which is nearly twice the amount spent in other developing nations.

Proponents of public option health care see long-term benefits of keeping alive competition and incentives for medical innovation by ensuring that the government is not the sole provider of healthcare for the country's 300+ million citizens.  They fear inefficiencies and lowering of quality of medical care by having a wholly government-run healthcare system.

The din surrounding healthcare reform has crescendoed considerably in the past weeks.  Perhaps it is because reform suddenly looks more imminent, as three different versions of healthcare reform sit in the Senate and House of be duked out and voted on in September, following the summer recess.


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