Private insurers could end up running a new public health insurance program for working-age Americans.
Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, discussed the administration’s views on public health insurance program proposals and other health finance reform efforts here today at a meeting sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif.
The Obama administration says health reform should include a public health insurance option.
But the administration is prepared to compromise by considering proposals that would permit private insurers to run such a program, and it might consider a bill that did not include a public health insurance option, DeParle said.
President Obama wants to enact a health care reform bill this year, and he wants to find ways to bridge gaps between the Democrats and the Republicans, DeParle said.
DeParle acknowledged that the health care industry is concerned about a study conducted recently by John Sheils, an actuary at the Lewin Group, Falls Church, Va., a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.
Sheils estimated premiums for the public health insurance program could be 30% lower than premiums for comparable private coverage, due to lower provider payment levels and lower administrative costs.
In theory, under one scenario, 119 million of the 170 million U.S. residents who now have private health coverage could end up with public coverage, Sheils estimated.
DeParle discounted the Sheils study, saying industry concerns are overblown.