Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If You Build A Good Public Plan, They Will Come

A strong public plan on a weak exchange will fail because it won't attain sufficient market share. It's as simple as that.
Ezra's been saying this for a while, but it seems way too Big Bang Theory of Legislation. If you have a strong public plan that cuts costs, but it's on a limited exchange, the next thing that's going to happen is that there's going to be massive political pressure to expand the exchange. Demonstrate to Ford and GE that their health care costs will in fact be lower by operating a cheap public plan in front of their eyes, and they'll knock some Cigna heads in to get access to it in a subsequent session of Congress. When the rest of corporate America takes on the big insurers, the results will be awesome. If there's some reason this doesn't work, I'd be interested in hearing what it is.


Mike Meginnis said...

It might work, but then on the other hand Wal-Mart is practically alone right now among corporate giants in advocating for its own interests, rather than the interests of profit-makers in general. They do have pretty remarkable class-consciousness, the rich.

Protagoras said...

What Mike said. Pretty much every powerful class has always had remarkable class-consciousness; that's one of the most important factors in making a class powerful.

Neil Sinhababu said...

You get that when the gains to be had are somewhat hazy and distant. But not when they're right there in front of you, one easily overturned regulation away. At present, I don't know how confident the folks at Ford and Coke and GE are in the cheapness of the public plan. They will be after we demonstrate it.

The world is full of corporation vs. corporation legislative fighting. Take the recent FedEx vs. UPS throwdown over union regulations that would make life harder for FedEx. Or the search providers vs. telcos battle we see in the Net Neutrality debate. Make it absolutely clear that the money is there, and they'll come get it.