The Betting Odds On The Public Option

What Intrade says about healthcare reform.


The big political question on everyone's minds around the country, but especially in Washington, is "Is the public option dead?" A cursory read of newspaper headlines might suggest that it is indeed dead, but others say not much has changed and the administration is still pursuing it.

Amidst all this speculation, I thought it would be interesting to see what people predict when they actually put their money on the table. So I checked Intrade's prediction market on the question of "Will a federal government-run health insurance plan be approved in the U.S.?" The result is that Intrade users have put the odds at under 35 percent currently. That's fallen from a peak of 51.5 percent when Intrade opened that particular market in June.

But it hasn't been a straight fall since then. Actually, just a few days ago, the market hit its low, below 20 percent. It has since rebounded back into the 30s, and almost back to the level it was last week. That development gives some ammunition to those who argue that the administration's recent waffling on just how much it will pursue the public option really hasn't changed much. Obama has never been dead-set on a public option.