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The Proposed Government Health Insurance Company -- No Substitute for Real Reform

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As pressure builds on the White House and Congress to deliver on their promise of health care reform, the idea of a government health insurance company to compete with for-profit and not-for-profit private companies is gaining political momentum. Advocates claim that this new company would be more efficient, honest, and successful in forcing lower reimbursement rates on physicians and hospitals. However, a close look at how the present health care system functions, what its major problems are, and what reforms are needed to solve them suggests that this new idea is not the answer. The three major problems of the current U.S. system are that 45 million to 50 million people have no health insurance, the cost of care is high and rapidly increasing, and there are gross lapses in the quality of care. There is no reason to think that a government insurance company would make a significant dent in any one of these problems, let alone all three. To do that would require real reform in the financing, organization, and delivery of care.

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