It's time for those who have health insurance to stand up for those who do not!

Five things you need to know about Obama's public health insurance option:

The choice of a public health insurance plan is crucial to real health care reform. But right now, it's being smeared by conservatives and insurance-industry front groups. Here's what you really need to know:

1. Choice, choice, choice. If the public option passes, Americans will be able to choose between their current insurance and a high-quality, government-run plan similar to Medicare. If you like your current care, you can keep it. If you don't or don't have any, you can get the public insurance plan.

2. It will be high-quality coverage with a choice of doctors. Government-run plans have a track record of innovating to improve quality, because they're not just focused on short-term profits. And if you choose the public plan, you'll still get to choose your doctor and hospital.

3. We'll all save a bunch of money. The public option won't have to spend money on things like CEO bonuses, shareholder dividends, or excessive advertising, so it'll cost a lot less. Plus, the private plans will have to lower their rates and provide better value to compete, so people who keep their current insurance will save, too.

4. It will always be there for you and your family. A for-profit insurer can close, move out of the area, or just kick you off their insurance rolls. The public option will always be available to provide you with the health security you need.

5. And it's a key part of universal health care. No longer will sick people or folks in rural communities, or low-income Americans be forced to go without coverage. The public option will be available and accessible to everyone. And for those struggling to make ends meet, the premiums will be subsidized by the government.

Melissa M Goldberg, RN

Ocean Park

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