Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why Not FEHBP? What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

The major sticking point of the health care debate appears to the “public option.” The liberal Democrats can’t live without it, and the Republicans can’t live with it.

My question is: why not open the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) to every one, rather than remaining stuck on the public option?

FEHBP has been operating successfully since 1960, covers 9 million people, has lower costs than most private plans, and offers a choice of 283 competing private plans - HSAs with high deductibles, FFS, HMOs, and PPOs.

Furthermore, FEHP cannot exclude people with pre-existent illness, rescind policies of those who become sick, or discriminate on basis of age and sex.

FEHBP is, in essence, a health exchange open to 9 million permanent government employees, government retirees, and, perhaps most importantly from the political point of view, to Congressmen and elected government officials.

It seems to me the public would welcome such an option. After all, what’s good for the goose – their congress persons and their senatora – ought to be good for the gander – the great American public.

The only objection I can think of is that FEHBP is a government program run by efficiently by the private sector. But most of the other elements necessary for compromise – affordability, choice, insurance reforms, portability across state lines - are there.

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