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Father Of The 'Public Option' Defends His Big Idea

Health Care Overhaul Petitions i i

On Capitol Hill, delivering petitions against a health care bill that includes a public option. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images
Health Care Overhaul Petitions

On Capitol Hill, delivering petitions against a health care bill that includes a public option.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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On today's Planet Money:

Meet Jacob Hacker, the father of the "public option." Hacker, a Yale political science professor, introduced the notion of the federal government offering a health insurance plan that would compete with ones from private companies.

President Obama calls the public option a means of pressuring private insurers to keep policies affordable, while critics say it would put them at an unfair disadvantage.

Now Hacker takes a turn defending his big idea, saying that a public plan would cost less to run and be able to bargain for better prices.

Bonus: A health insurance tale, after the jump.

Download the podcast; or subscribe. Intro music: Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Flickr.

We asked for your stories about dealing with insurance company billing practices. Brian Gist, who now lives in Chicago, sent one from 2001. We'll delete the insurer's name. Gist writes:

While on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, I fell (on my first run on the
first day of the trip) which required a trip to the Tahoe Ski Clinic.
A set of x-rays showed no injury — "Put some ice on it and take some Advil, and spend quality time in the bar while the rest of your family skis this week."

When I received my statement from [deleted], I was only slightly surprised to find the claim was denied. That was their M.O. — deny first, and pay after I called for an override.

It was instead the reason for the decline, however, that made me smile:

PRE-EXISTING CONDITION.

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