Howard Dean, the physician, ex-Vermont governor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, lauded President Barack Obama’s health care proposals in a talk here.

“The president has it right,” he said, arguing that the bill’s language proposes reform based on “the comfort of the American people to choose.”

Dean was keynote speaker at the Vermont Captive Insurance Association annual conference here.

“Most people like employer-based health care,” he said, “but the President’s plan gives people a choice.” He said that 80% have health insurance and are happy with it, noting that while most who are insured want everyone to be covered, “they don’t want to sacrifice their own benefits.”

He said the high rate of medical inflation in the United States makes insurance more expensive, labor costs higher and gives the U.S. a disadvantage in global competition. Rising medical costs are a major reason why jobs are shipped to other countries and small business shut down, he argued.

He said every American should have the choice of public or private health care insurance and should have public health coverage available for life, no matter where they live or work.

Dean blamed major medical operations and procedures for much of the rise in medical costs. People don’t inquire about prices for such care, because they know they’re covered, he said.

He noted that in Massachusetts, a health care plan was put into service covering all but about 2.5% of state residents. The high costs of medical care made the plan prohibitive, he said, pointing out that because costs couldn’t be contained, a panel of health care providers recently voted to end the program.

Dean maintained that having a public option available would “retool the private sector, give Americans a choice and let the market work.”

A big advantage of Obama’s plan, he said, is that it is “not going to dismantle the private system.”