Fact Check: The Public Option Leads To A One-Size-Fits-All Government Health Insurance System
WASHINGTON – As some candidates try to paint new government-controlled health insurance systems – such as the public option and Medicare buy-in – as “moderate” proposals, these would ultimately lead to the same one-size-fits-all system over time. PolitiFact reported recently that “introducing a public option … could create more incentives for employers to drop private coverage and switch to the public Medicare plan — and, in some cases, for private carriers to exit the individual marketplace.”
The New York Times reported that the public option “could be plenty disruptive” and “tilt in the same direction” as Medicare for All. And, as Eric Levitz of New York Magazine writes, the public option “would not allow all Americans to ‘keep their private insurance if they prefer it’” and “would guarantee massive disruptions to private coverage.”
This is backed up by the findings of a study conducted by FTI Consulting for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which reveals the public option could eliminate consumer choice for millions of Americans and “eventually cause the elimination of all private plans in the individual market.” The study finds:
- After the first 10 years of the public option, more than seven million current enrollees would no longer have private coverage through the marketplaces – with two million of those enrollees being forced off their private plans as insurers exit the marketplaces altogether.
- The study also warns that the public option could eventually cause the elimination of all private plans in the individual marketplaces, eliminating choice for millions of Americans, even those with the resources or subsidies available to cover their preferred plan.
- In fact, the report finds that by 2050, 70 percent of state marketplaces (34 U.S. states) would no longer offer a single private insurance option.
- Rural families would be especially hard hit by the public option, the study warns, and could find few if any options available to them.
As The New York Times also reported, the public option “could shake up the private market and also wind up erasing some current insurance arrangements … There’s also the possibility that linking public-option coverage to Medicare could cause some doctors to stop accepting Medicare patients, [Sherry Glied, the dean of the N.Y.U. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a former health official in the Obama administration] said. That would be another form of politically risky disruption.”Further, The Times explains, the public option “could have effects on employer insurance …[T]he existence of a public option might also induce some employers to abandon private coverage altogether … If it took a lot of market share from private insurers, some might decide to stop selling certain lines of coverage. Private insurance could disappear from some places, or exist largely to fill certain niches, like high-deductible plans.”
Meanwhile, a study conducted by KNG Health Consulting, LLC for the Partnership reveals that “Medicare for America,” another proposed new government-controlled health insurance system, could force one-third of American workers off of their current employer-provided health care coverage, also known as employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). And The Wall Street Journal reports that new government-controlled health insurance systems like the public option, Medicare buy-in and ‘Medicare for all who want it,’ represent “stepping stones to single payer.”