Friday, December 4, 2009

The Great “44¢ Public Option” Race

[A copy of a letter recently sent to one of America's newest Senators]

December 4, 2009

The Honorable Senator Al Franken
320 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

RE: The “44¢ Public Option”

Dear Senator Franken:

I Am Sending You this Letter to ask you to judge a race that the American people are currently running right now. The race has three contestants–represented by UPS, FedEX, and the USPS. The event tests which of the three can deliver the mail in the most-efficient manner, at the best price, to the consumer.

Each of the For-Profit Delivery Services represents a different, randomly selected for-profit, health-insurance company. You may choose representative names from your own personal list: Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, The Traveler’s, United Healthcare, etc.

Meanwhile, the Not-for-Profit Delivery Service of the USPS represents either the proposed “public option” in the health-insurance reform bills currently working their way through Congress, or else a single-payer system. Again, your choice.

Three Copies of this Letter have been mailed to you via the three competing entities without giving you a chance to read this letter or to know of this contest in advance, to prevent influence from preconceived opinions you may have in the health-insurance reform debate.

By the Time You Read the three editions of this letter, you will know first-hand who has won the challenge. Will it be FedEX or UPS, whose deliveries will cost $7.20 and $10.33, respectively? Or will it be the government-run “public option” of the USPS, the United States Postal Service, costing 44¢?

Judging Should Be Based on Two Characteristics:

(1) Timeliness of Delivery: Which copy of the letter arrived in the timeliest manner? That is, which letter or letters arrived in time for you to read them and use the information to make your informed decision in a timely manner?

□ (A) FedEX (Date Received: _____ ) No. of Days for Delivery: _____
□ (B) UPS     (Date Received: _____ ) No. of Days for Delivery: _____
□ C) USPS    (Date Received: _____) No. of Days for Delivery: _____

(2) Cost-Effectiveness of Delivery: In relation to the timeliness of the delivery, which copy or copies of the letter cost less to deliver in relation to the amount of time that it took to reach you? (Delivery Cost divided by Number of Days to Delivery equals the cost-effectiveness coefficient, with the lowest number representing the most cost-effective outcome):

□ (A) FedEX: Delivery Cost ÷ No. of Days Required for Delivery = _____
□ (B) UPS:     Delivery Cost ÷ No. of Days Required for Delivery = _____
□ C) USPS:    Delivery Cost ÷ No. of Days Required for Delivery = _____

This Challenge Will Demonstrate two different objective truths about the present state of capitalism in America:

(1) Regardless of delivery “option,” the letters should reach you within one or two days of each other. Delivery cost will have been paid in advance. The USPS sometimes receives Government support, which still brings the unit cost (the 44¢ stamps needed to mail insurance-premium payments and credit-card payments and greeting cards, etc.) substantially lower than what it would cost, per capita, to send these items by private delivery.

(2) Here in the United States of America, in the present day, both the high-priced “private option” and the low-priced “public option” compete head-to-head. The low-priced option provides low-cost service to those who need it. The different high-cost “private option” services survive competition–and on a profitable basis.
Despite the High Prices of the Private Services, FedEX and UPS, in contrast with the low USPS prices, all three services fill vital roles in delivering services that American citizens need.

American Citizens Deserve the Same
Quality of Choice in Healthcare Services.

We Don’t Know Why So Many People want to pay $10.33 or $7.20 to deliver a letter that the USPS delivers for 44¢. The important thing is: they do.

The “Private Option” of UPS and FedEX competes just fine with the low-cost “public option” of the postal service. For 233 years, the great American system of free-market capitalism has worked just fine.

It’s Time to Give the American People a “public option” for healthcare services, and give all Americans the free-market choices that we deserve.


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