A senior Democrat and early supporter of Barack Obama for president, Boucher voiced support for considering a plan to create nonprofit co-operatives as a strong alternative to a new government insurance plan.Let's start out by addressing Boucher's statement about the public option essentially putting private insurance companies out of business. This is completely false. In fact, the public option would help improve the free-market system by forcing private companies to meet the demands of consumers and to provide quality coverage to the public. In other words, the public option would require health insurance companies to make sure they are providing coverage that people want at a reasonable rate. If insurance companies simply do that then they won't be put out of business.
"I have a problem with this government option plan," Boucher said. "I'm troubled that the government option plan could become very popular and if it became sufficiently popular it could begin to crowd out the other" private insurance companies.
In regards to Boucher's comments about the co-op plan, I think he is heading in the wrong direction here. Boucher represents a district in Southwest Virginia that is largely rural. Here's part of what the Center for Rural Affairs had to say about some of the unique factors facing rural communities regarding health care.
Unique rural factors make health insurance coverage less stable for rural individuals and families, ultimately negatively affecting their health. The high cost of insurance in the individual market; generally higher insurance premiums in rural areas; less employer-provided insurance; and lower incomes and higher rates of poverty all act together to leave rural residents with a greater risk of being without insurance, without adequate insurance, or uninsured for longer periods of time, all factors that negatively affect health.The report then went on to give some points about why a public option would actually prove to be beneficial for rural communities.
- Workplace characteristics more common in rural areas such as self-employment, small business ownership and employment, and low-wage work are risk factors for higher rates of being without insurance, being without adequate insurance, and greater dependence on the individual insurance market, conditions all subject to issues of cost, choice, and level of coverage that a public health insurance plan could address.
- A public health insurance plan could lead to significantly lower costs to businesses and households. Models show public health insurance plan premiums would be 16 to 30 percent lower than private plans, and health care cost savings would be up to 41 percent greater with a public health insurance plan.