2020 April image CH

The sloppy, ill-conceived draft plan fails to account for rural communities; greedy hospitals

Like anyone else with a head and a heart, I would like to see more and more options open up for the American health care consumer. After all, access to choice is what we’re all about at ColoHealth. But the new draft plan by Colorado lawmakers to create a state-backed public option is far from the mark when it comes to expanding coverage options.

While the plan is still in formation and some lawmakers insist that more time is needed to assess the feasibility, it is already becoming obvious (to those of us who are paying attention) that the folks behind this plan haven’t taken the time to think through the ramifications of what they are proposing, and sadly, neither have their constituents.

The Rural Consequences of Public Option

This is what lawmakers want you to believe: that health care costs will suddenly plummet once they strike a deal with the hospitals to charge less for their services and procedures. In addition, health insurance companies will suddenly, inexplicably agree to a list of far stronger regulations. The result will be a plan so perfect and cheap that the people of Colorado will have no choice but to cheer and hoist these lawmakers above their head and parade them down East Colfax with the boom bands playing.

The reality is that there is no way that hospitals and insurance companies will accept this level of regulatory overreach without being forced, in a very real, fiscal way, into cutting costs across the board. Rural clinics and hospitals will be the first to go. Then, employee-paid provider networks will suddenly start to shrink and insurance companies will start to pull out of communities that are no longer viable.

When the private options finally become more expensive and less comprehensive, the public option ceases to be a public option at all. It becomes the only option, and that is something that nobody should be okay with.

Uncharted Territory

It is worth mentioning that no other state has yet tried to establish a state-administrated public health insurance option. Washington has passed legislation, but it has yet to go into effect. So it goes without saying that we are entering an arena that we have never been in before. To me, this seems like more than enough of a reason to not go charging blindly into a poorly-conceived bid to win political points by flaunting theoretical short-term premium reductions.

Early Reports: Coloradans Can’t Afford the State Public Option

According to the first reports that have been released on the subject, the wider implications of a state government facilitated program would have “sweeping, negative consequences for Colorado families.”

Not only would rural communities suffer from an immediate loss of services and facilities, but the insurance companies would likely have to transfer the increased burden to employer-paid health care plans. If you follow this scenario through to its logical conclusion, you will arrive at a place where employer plans are no longer viable for most consumers, and their only option would be to cede control of their health care to the federal government.

More Options = Better Healthcare

No matter which way you slice it, the best way to make sure that everybody in this country has access to affordable care that suits their needs is by letting the free, competitive market create an ecosystem of different plans, coverage options, and price points. This is something that is not possible under a system where everything is controlled by the feds.

As I mentioned earlier, open-choice, consumer-driven healthcare is what we’re all about at ColoHealth. We might not have a lobbyist at the state capitol, but we can do our own small duty by educating our friends and clients as to which health care options are open to them.

And which options, sadly enough, are in jeopardy.