Josh Marshall has an absurdly misguided (and misguiding) post this afternoon.
His headline asks:
Is the Public Option a Big Dud?
The post (in its entirety) reads:
Has the Public Option been made so emasculated and available to so few people that its premiums will actually end up being higher than private insurance premiums. (sic) Brian Beutler explains why the Public Option may end up being the insurance companies’ best friend.
The answer to the question posed by the headline turns out to be: No.
The answer to that question punctuated as a statement also turns out to be: No.
And what Brian Beutler explains is nothing remotely like “why the Public Option may end up being the insurance companies’ best friend.”
The only factually correct statement in Marshall’s post is that the public option’s premiums may end up being higher than those of private plans offered on the exchange.
What Brian Beutler explains is the reason for that. And what he says is that the public option will, on average, attract people in poorer health, “and, to be actuarially sound, it will have to raise its premiums.” The fact that we’re talking about a public option with negotiated rates (instead of rates pegged to Medicare) also makes the premiums higher than they might have been. But, as Beutler points out, the people who will end up being covered by the public option would probably pay “yet more still” without the public option.
Why Josh Marshall chose to write this story up with scare headlines and scare content is anybody’s guess. Unless he didn’t actually read Brian Beutler’s post. In which case, he really shouldn’t have tried to blogg about it.
Since TPM has recently started correcting Josh Marshall’s embarrassing typos, it will be interesting to see if this post gets corrected at some point.
*** Update, 3:55 p.m. ***
Having brought up this whole issue, it’s probably worth underlining one point that Brian Beutler doesn’t stress. One reason that the public plan will have higher premiums is that it will be offering more healthcare. That is to say, it won’t engage in the worst practices of the health insurance industry, denying treatments and rejecting claims. As the CBO put it,
The public plan … would probably engage in less management of utilization by its enrollees…