June 23rd, 2009
01:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama: private insurers shouldn't fear public plan playing by same rules

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday that there is a "legitimate concern" about the ability of private insurers to compete with a public plan "if the public plan is simply eating (from) the taxpayer trough."

If that's the case, it'd be tough for private insurers to compete, Obama said. If, on the other hand, the "public plan must collect premiums and provide (good) services" like private insurers, then private insurers should have no problem competing with a public option.

Obama said he was hopeful that an efficiently-run public plan could help push private insurers to make similar cost-cutting moves.

The president made his remarks during a news conference at the White House.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. a good healthy dose of fear

    I like Obama, but I fear government and I think the Decl. of Inde. says that outright citizens need to, as I think the consti. does as well

    so I say fear your govt. and hold the bastards accountable

    June 23, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Capt. Snarky

    Yeah, and I'm sure GM has no worries about a goobermint takeover, either. Oh, wait, Nevermind.

    June 23, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I agree Mr. President. Private insurers have been raping employers and employees for far too long. A public option is way overdue. I'm going to take Anderson Cooper's slogan and apply it to healthcare reform: "Keeping Them Honest."

    June 23, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. David

    What private insurance companies will need to do is make a change in the industry.

    First by cutting their overhead costs by not paying agents hundreds of dollars for each policy on an annual basis, for really providing a service that a website could provide. Insurance is not rocket science.

    Also understanding that the gravey train has ended, and it's now time for private insurers to focus on providing services to maintain customers. No longer feeding off a captured audience.

    If the private company offers better services than the public plan, then they will be able to pull customers. If not, they will lose customers. That's how the private sector works.

    June 23, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Tim

    Trust him 😉

    After all, he is the agent of change.

    June 23, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. The Original No Incumbents 2010

    Obama said. If, on the other hand, the "public plan must collect premiums and provide (good) services" like private insurers, then private insurers should have no problem competing with a public option.
    Would all you Liberals just slow down and think about this for a moment. Read it let it soak in. If that is truly the case, then why do we need a public option? If everyone competes on a fair playing field, that sounds alot like a "Free Market".
    But we all know this is not the case. This is politics and speaking from both sides of the mouth, slight of hand, saying one thing – then doing what you want. This is all about bigger government.

    June 23, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Steve

    Seriously...the President has the nerve to stand there and scold the insurance industry about efficiency and excessive costs when we have a government that is growing at an uncontrolled pace. While I clearly agree that health care is broken, letting the government into the insurance business is not the right answer. The governement is not a model of efficiency and conservative fiscal management and I have no idea whey President Obama or his henchmen think that the government will do better.

    America was not built on governement intervention and control. Time to drop the public plan idea.

    June 23, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. katiec

    The public option would make the insurance companies compete and we would get creditable, affordable insurance. The insurance, drug companies, hospitals etc have had the control of our health cared system for far too long and look what it has done to health care and us. Greed and power took over, rather than quality, performance and fairness.
    72% of the American people support the public option. The politicians need to listen to and HEAR us.

    June 23, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Bingo

    Everything is in a name. "Public plan" for health care really means "taxpayer funded" health care plan. Anybody interested in paying more taxes for less service?

    June 23, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    Not my favorite set of circumstances, but, at this point in time, based on the actions of the private sector, I am MUCH less afraid of spending money on health care in a program designed and provided by this administration than I am from HMOs and the like.

    June 23, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. No More!

    Public option will be the only option, we will all be on plans similar to Medicare. Private insurance will be gone. What employer would pay the higher premiums for private when public would be cheaper. Obamas money saving ideas are really great............cut out tests and limit care. We all know how well Medicare works, lousy care that is almost bankrupt and that is paid into by anyone working. The government can't even manage that. What makes you think they can manage universal coverage? Where are you going to find doctors to work for next to nothing? Who's going to pay the premiums of the "poor" people? Way too expensive!! Your dog will get better coverage than you will.

    June 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. laura

    Exactly same rules. A little competion never hurt anyone. Why should private insures be able to play GOD and decide who can get insurance and who can't an what is covered. Pass it already.

    I have health a insurance ,a PPO, and I still have to jump through hoops to get answers of why wasn't this covered, but this was, even though it states that everything is covered.

    June 23, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Chas in Iowa

    I'd like to see an honest discussion about a bigger issue relating to health care.
    Who is in charge!
    I'm sick, literally, of being denied medical services by the insurance companies and having to pay the bills for treatment myself even though I have paid for coverage through one of the nations biggest insurers.
    When are we going to put health care decisions back in the hands of our physicians?

    June 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Gunnar Lawless

    Private insurance companies, you listening to this? You believing this? Looks like your days are numbered, as the government-run health insurance will be much cheaper (at taxpayer expense) and many Americans will go the cheaper route as always.

    June 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Ted Tartaglia

    Left to their own devices, the insurance companies will continue the status quo of continually increasing premiums and co-pays with decreasing levels of service. Insurance companies are only concerned with maximizing profits. Only with true competition from a public healthcare option will healthcare costs stabilize.

    June 23, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Bill

    Of course they are scared! They might lose profits which is the name of their game–not health care. The US Constitution speaks of the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Doesn't health connote life? Thus, health care is a right for all citizens, not a privilege that fuels the bottom-line profits of corporations!!!

    June 23, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Texas Pioneer

    Time for all of the people in this country to have access to affordable health care.
    If the party of NO has a good idea for something different than the public insurance idea. Lets hear it.
    We have needed something besides business as usual for the last 16 years and the elections next year are calling.
    I dare you to try and kill this health care movement.

    June 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Gene

    Insurance companies run their business on the principle of providing the absolute least amount of services that are "medically necessary" in their opinions.. as a result, common sense often goes out the window.

    I love the idea of a public plan and giving people the option of choosing which way they want to go.

    June 23, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. Obama Victim

    "If, on the other hand, the "public plan must collect premiums and provide (good) services" like private insurers, then private insurers should have no problem competing with a public option. "

    Riiiiiiight. And what happens if/when the "Public Plan" begins losing money?? It's called "taxes".

    I challenge ANYONE to name ONE Government program which is completely self-sufficient (paid by premiums) and NOT supported by tax-dollars.

    Please – name just one program!

    June 23, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Eileen

    I welcome the public option. The insurance industry has had free reign and it's time for a little healthy competition. Overpriced coverage with limited or "rationed" services is what I see now with my insurer – it can't get worse.

    June 23, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Me in Big D


    June 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. DJJ

    To President Obama – Sir, I am not interested in reading or hearing about private versus public, co-ops, impasses in Congress, Republican intransigence, or Democratic compromising.
    Sir, you campaigned on getting the same health insurance you had as a member of Congress for all Americans.
    That platform was one of the reasons I voted for you.
    Sir, you campaigned on it, it is now time for you to deliver on your campaign promise.
    Where is my "same as a member of Congress" health insurance?
    Perhaps we Americans should create a post election requirement of our candidates, if you campaign for or against a particular issue, then once in office, that is how said candidate MUST vote that issue.
    If a candidate campaigns promising a particular course of action, then said elected official should be held to that standard.
    Where is my Congressional health insurance, Mr. President?
    Dennis in Cleveland

    June 23, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Liberty

    While I agree Health Care is out of control I do not think government run plans are the answer. My biggest fear is that the government does not do anything efficiently and if you see what Medicaid/Medicare have done to our budget just wait until my second biggest fear hits. Private companies will drop insurance plans for employees like the over priced burden they are and tell their employees to pick up the government plan and boom they are off the hook, increasing the cost of said government plans, etc. etc.

    June 23, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Double talk

    If people have to pay similar premiums for both the private plans and the public plans, what is the point of having the government get into the insurance and health care business? This is circular logic and it appears that, short of a campaign slogan and a sound byte, there is no substance to Oblamo's health care reform initiatives.

    June 23, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Deborah from KC/RN

    The only reason they fear a private plan is their huge profit centers. If, they were not taking out huge profits for their CEO's, Owners, and Stockholders, then the cost of health care could be reduced. Physicians, hospitals, and healthcare providers could be paid enough to stay in business and provide better health care for us all. As we have had demonstrated to us quite clearly, by our financial system and its profit centers; no profit is ever enough. On the one hand they say "Oh, it will be terrible healthcare and you won't have any choices; on the other hand they say, "Oh, its unfair because the Private Insurance Companies could never compete with the Public Plan". Right because the Private Healthcare system is only concerned about Profit. The Public System would be concerned about providing good health care. Medicare patients receive good healthcare. Unless they have been forced to select one of the Private Insurance Companies, like Humana, to "manage their benefits"; Medicare Patients do not have to get prior approval or permission to get their care. That's so the private system can "Manage" the money into their pockets, instead of allowing the healthcare a person needs.

    June 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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