TRANSCRIPT: 'Questions for the President: Prescription for America'

And everybody's families, I think, have had to experience this in

one way or another. That's -- that's the reason we need reform right now.

GIBSON: We're going to take one more commercial break, Mr.

President. When we come back, we're going to get into the issue of

whether or not in a reform measure there should government insurance for

people, because a lot of people are very uncomfortable with that idea.

"Prescription for America" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: "Questions for the President: Prescription for America"

continues. Once again from the White House, Charles Gibson and Diane

Sawyer.

GIBSON: As I probably could have anticipated, this is running a

little longer than we thought. The president's been nice enough to

stay. He would say that he would stay during your local news, and we

will continue this discussion during the "Nightline" half-hour. And so

we're going to get into that public option and whether there should be

government insurance as part of all of this.

But I do want to get to cost, because, as you know, the

Congressional Budget Office is estimating that this is going to cost

over the next 10 years $1 trillion to $2 trillion. There's all these

estimates. And the question is, can we afford it? And there's a lot of

people who have that question on their mind.

SAWYER: And bringing in Christopher Bean from Maryland.

Christopher Bean, Allint Tech Systems Human Resources Department: Good evening. It's a pleasure to be here and meet you.

OBAMA: Thanks.

BEAN: I do have a -- kind of a two-base question. I'm going

to read it, because I'm very nervous.

(LAUGHTER)

In light of this proposed health care reform and national health

care system, I have many concerns. One of them is the big -- is the big

brother fear. How far is government going to go in reference to my

personal life and health care treatments?

And then, secondly, how and who will pay for the national health

care system?

OBAMA: Good. Well, look, both are great questions. We've been

sort of circling around your first question, the whole big brother

fear. What kind of insurance, Chris, do you have right now? What kind

of coverage do you have?

BEAN: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

OBAMA: It's a Blue Cross Blue Shield. So if you're happy with your

plan, as I said, you keep it.

Now, there are some restrictions we want to place on insurers.

Pre-existing conditions is a tool that has prevented a lot of people

from either not being able to get insurance or, if they lose their job,

they can't find insurance. We think those policies should end.

So there are going to be some areas where we want to regulate the

insurers a little more. Now, in exchange, they're going to have a

bigger customer pool. And so we think that they may not make as much

profit on every single person that they provide coverage to. On the

other hand, overall, I think they can still be profitable.

In terms of cost, understand that the system is already out of whack

in terms of costs as it is. So if we do nothing, costs are going to

keep on going up 6 percent, 7 percent, 8 percent per year, and

government, businesses and families are all going to find themselves

either losing their health care or paying a lot more out of pocket.

That's going to happen if we do nothing.

What I've said is, let's change the system so that our overall cost

curve starts going down, by investing in a range of things, prevention,

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