President Barack Obama on Monday called for the creation of a "public option" for Obamacare, an idea that had previously been considered but then abandoned during the creation of the Affordable Care Act in Congress.
Obama, in an article published in a leading medical journal, said that Obamacare customers in some areas of the country that have limited competition among insurance plans should be offered the option to buy coverage from a government-sponsored health plan.
Obama argued for a public option that would be sold on government-run ACA marketplaces by noting that in 12 percent of the country, Obamacare enrollees only have one or two insurance issuers to chose from.
"Based on the experience with the ACA, I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited," Obama wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which for the first time was publishing an article by a sitting president. He said such an option would give consumers "more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government."
He wrote that "public programs like Medicare often deliver care more cost-effectively by curtailing administrative overhead and securing better prices from providers."
Obama's JAMA article credited the Affordable Care Act with making "substantial progress" in controlling health-care costs and increasing insurance coverage to millions of Americans, but called for several more actions beyond a public option to bolster the effects of Obamacare.
Obama suggested that Congress increase federal financial assistance to people who enroll in private plans sold on Obamacare marketplaces, such as HealthCare.gov. He noted that the ACA's coverage provisions are projected to cost 28 percent less than original projections, creating an opportunity to invest those savings into making coverage less expensive.