New Life for a Public Option

Private health insurance companies, already racking up huge profits, are drawing heavy fire for plans to jack up premiums even more. An alarming new report issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services details efforts by insurers in several states to stick customers with outrageous premium hikes. The report also is throwing a spotlight on renewed efforts by Senator Bernie Sanders and others to get Congress to pass a public option, like Medicare, to compete with private insurance companies and hold down premiums. Sanders, a member of the Senate health committee, added his signature to a letter calling for a Senate vote on public health insurance option. "At a time when there is deep skepticism and mistrust of the private insurance industry, when just last month a major health insurer in California announced it would raise its premiums by a whopping 39 percent in one fell swoop, the American people have made it clear that they want the option to buy their insurance through a Medicare-type, government-run public insurance plan," Sanders said.  

"The public option is not just important for the individual consumer, it is an important mechanism to provide competition for the private, for-profit health insurance industry, to keep them honest, and to lower the overall cost of health care in our country," Sanders added.  "I am very pleased to join with my Senate colleagues to urge passage of a public health insurance plan using the budget reconciliation process."

To watch Sanders discuss the public option with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, click here.

To read the new Obama administration study, click here.