Heath Care Reform Would Benefit Texas

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Must-read column today by Michael Schnurman in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He details how and why national health care reform would benefit Texas.

For one, when it comes to health insurance, the free market isn’t all that free. In many states, there are too few insurance companies to spark true competition for customers.

But here’s the catch: Even in states with lots of competition (states like Texas), prices have still gone up. Schnurman writes:

Lots of competition means lots of choice and lots of benefits for consumers — at least that’s the theory.Except that in health insurance, the results have often been higher prices and more cherry-picking of the best customers.”We have lots of choices, but they aren’t affordable choices,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin research group that supports reform. “Having a lot of competitors isn’t sufficient in itself.”

Free market principles just don’t graft well on to certain policy areas — such as education. Same goes for health care. It’s proven nearly impossible to create a pure health insurance market. With health care, more competition doesn’t necessarily reduce prices.

Schnurman also piggybacks on the excellent research by CPPP that shows how much national health care reform would benefit Texas, especially if there’s a public option:

Unfortunately, a lot of people in Texas don’t get insurance from large employers or from employers at all. Just under 49 percent of Texans have employer-sponsored insurance, compared with an average of 56 percent for the nation (and 88.5 percent in Hawaii).It’s part of this group that stands to benefit from a public option. The government plan would be added to a health insurance exchange that includes private carriers and offers several tiers of coverage. The public option would be offered to individuals, as well as employees of small companies whose plans were too expensive or limited in coverage….

Like it or not, reform is coming, and Texas stands to be one of the big winners. For people looking to the health insurance exchange — and there will be a lot of them in Texas — the public option could make it even better.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.