Public option for insurance would increase competition


Mr. and Mrs. Johnson* are hard-working Americans who own a successful business. One day, Mrs. Johnson was using a box cutter and sliced her finger. Thinking nothing of this cut, she placed two butterfly Band-Aids over the cut and went on with her work. When she went home, her finger was still sore, yet without health care she did not have an option to have a doctor examine it.

Two days later her finger had swelled to twice its size, which forced her to go to the fire department to have her ring removed. By that evening, the swelling had spread to all her arm and the pain was unbearable, so she became one of 380 citizens who visit the local emergency room each day.

While she was at the emergency room, she found out that she had the beginning of a staph infection in her finger. Had she not been able to claim worker’s compensation, her family would have lost all of its savings. This would mean her four sons and two daughters would not have been able to go to college; the family would have lost its business and its income.

Mrs. Johnson’s story demonstrates a few key issues within the health care debate.

It is difficult to imagine that the Johnsons are the only family unable to purchase health care insurance. With a public option, this would help protect the hard-working business owners in America who are not able to afford a health care plan.

The number of uninsured people is even more concerning when you look at the number in Kansas. According to the most recent census, the number of uninsured Kansans has increased in the past seven years to 330,000. The census goes on to demonstrate that 13.4 percent of Kansans who are employed by larger business still do not have health care.

The Johnsons demonstrate that even a small medical problem can destroy the entire family’s savings and fundamentally change their plans for the future. When a person does not have health care, even the smallest cut can be devastating.

The current health care system puts college graduates in danger, since most of their families’ health insurance will drop their coverage once they are out of college. This seems particularly concerning in our economic situation, with hiring freezes around the country. This means that while our K-State graduates might be the most qualified in their field, they are still fairly unlikely to get a job where they will have adequate health care.

While the Republicans in Congress and pundits have argued that the public option will destroy the competition of private insurance, they are simply wrong. This competition between public and private industries will allow for the best insurance policy options.

This seems to be a win-win scenario for citizens and their insurance companies. Americans will win because they will have the best option of health care to choose from, and the insurance companies will win because they will become more productive and efficient which is crucial to ensuring that their business becomes the best in the field.

While we might not all agree on the health care reform debate and the best way to solve it, we can all agree that our system is not working and something needs to be done.

*The names in this story have been changed to protect identities.

-Molly McGuire is a sophomore in political science and speech and vice president of the Young Democrats. Please send comments to