Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan - "Just Give Us What You've Got, " The Simplest Health Reform of Them All

Whoopie Goldberg, the host of The View, says the solution to health reform is quite simple. Just tell Congress to give us what you’ve got, namely the health care benefits Congress persons and Senators receive.

She may have a point.

After all, the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) has been in existence for nearly 50 years, is marketed across state lines, covers those with pre-existing illness, gives over 10 million employees a choice of health plans, is administered by government agency overseeing private plans, is efficient, and would give great comfort to those who think Congress gets special favors.

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 10 million permanent government employees, government retirees, and, perhaps most importantly from the political point of view, to Congressmen and elected government officials.

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

Sorry, Whoopi. It will never be. Health reform, like life, it too damn complicated for answers to be easy.

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