In recent months, support for the government takeover of health insurance championed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren has dropped, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Voters are now split nearly down the middle.

Meanwhile, another form of government-run health care is gaining ground. Nearly three-quarters of Americans now support a “public option.” Advocates claim that a government-sponsored health plan can ensure that everyone has access to affordable coverage without disrupting the private insurance that millions of Americans currently have and like.

But a public option would eliminate private health insurance as surely as Medicare for All would. It’d just do so more slowly.

The public option seems straightforward. The government sponsors a low-cost health plan to compete against plans offered by private insurers. That extra competition, in theory, leads to lower overall costs for consumers.

But the public option has two significant — and unfair — advantages on private insurance. First, it can reimburse doctors and hospitals at rates dictated by the government.