In what shouldn’t come as a surprise, the New York Times editorializes today in favor of a government-run option as part of the overhaul of the health care system. The argument is typical of the type of reasoning that you’d expect from the Times — for instance, it suggests that the so-called “public option” be modeled after Medicare, then notes: “A public plan might do a better job of slowing the growth of health care costs, although Medicare has not been notably successful in that regard.”
The key mistake the Times makes in the editorial is to perpetuate this idea that Americans would actually be given a “choice” over whether to have government or private insurance. But if it is open to all employers, then many businesses would simply choose to dump their employees onto the government plan. Since about 64 percent of covered Americans obtain their insurance through their employers, many Americans would effectively be left with no choice but to enroll. The Lewin Group report I noted yesterday found that if a public plan were created, the number of people with private insurance would shrink by two-thirds, or 119.1 million people.