In a column for Axios, Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman notes that “[a]bout seven million more people gained employer coverage between 2013 and 2017 — nearly as many as the 10 million people who were covered through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace last year.”
The increase means that 156 million people were covered by employer-based insurance in 2017. That makes it by far the single largest form of coverage, followed by Medicaid at 74 million. Between the lines: The size of this group is a reminder of the biggest challenge for Medicare for All: it can’t be too disruptive of the health coverage people already have.
Of course, as others have reported, Medicare for All carries with it the promise of “massive disruption,” along with an estimated $32.6 trillion price tag.
Taken together, these facts provide important context for the swift, negative reaction to recent high-profile proposals to eliminate private health care coverage.
As the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Altman continues:
Since people with employer coverage are the largest insured group in the country, the next wave of health reform will be more politically successful if it resonates with their concerns. That’s why Kamala Harris’ comment this week about doing away with private health insurance, as part of a Medicare for All plan, exposes the danger for Democrats if they don’t convince people who like their private coverage that they have something better to offer.
The takeaway? Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, the number of Americans benefiting from employer-provided coverage has gone up significantly. Pulling the rug out from under the millions of Americans who count on employer-based and other private health coverage is both bad politics and bad policy.
Click here to read Altman’s full column on Axios.