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10 Reasons We Need a Public Option

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It has become increasingly clear that the president and the Democratic Party have done a poor job of articulating why we need a public option in the next health care bill. The Republicans and centrist Democrats have successfully managed to dictate the terms of debate, casting the push for a public insurance option as an obsession of the far Left. Progressives will have to fight very hard to keep any form of the public option included in the final health care package, and its strength will be determined by the Left's ability to pressure Obama.

Real health care reform cannot happen without a public option, and we need a constant reminder of exactly what we are fighting for. Here are the top 10 reasons why there must be a public insurance option:

  1. Passing health care reform with a public option means millions of currently uninsured people will get access to comprehensive coverage at an affordable rate.
  2. A public option will force private insurance companies to compete with the power of the government. Prices will come down, and they will no longer be able to charge insane premiums or deny coverage.
  3. A public option gives power to consumers who can walk away from insurance companies that do not pay out, deny coverage, or excessively increase their premiums.
  4. It will give Americans a sense of ownership of health care. It will no longer be a privilege of the rich, but an affordable part of everyone's life and a comfort in times of crisis.
  5. With a public option, drug prices will come down due to the government's ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.
  6. It will prevent people from going bankrupt because of excessive medical bills. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, "62 percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses. Of those who filed for bankruptcy, nearly 80 percent had health insurance."
  7. A public plan will have significantly lower overheads than a private plan. The government won't need to market their plan, and they don't need to make a profit from it. Therefore, the the consumer reaps the savings.
  8. It will save small businesses huge amounts of money and allow them to raise wages, increase vacation time and take better care of their employees.
  9. After a few years, it will prove Republicans totally and utterly wrong about socialized medical care.
  10. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin will have very visible and hilarious meltdowns.

    What could be better than that?

Ben Cohen is the Editor of and founder of