July 6, 2023 | Updates

WTAS: Government-Controlled Health Insurance Systems Don’t Work at Any Level

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute president and CEO, recently published articles highlighting how public option systems continue to fail at the state level despite government aid. Similarly, government-controlled health insurance proposals are ineffective at the federal level.

States with public option systems, notably Colorado and Washington, have hit roadblocks trying to not only implement a public option, but also make them affordable and attractive for consumers:  

  • “But despite all this state backing, public plans are still not the lowest-cost option in nine counties where they’re available.” (Newsmax, 5/26/23)
  • “Washington’s plan, Cascade Select, had fewer than 800 individuals sign up during its first year.”
  • In Colorado, “only 25,000 of the state’s 5.8 million residents were enrolled in public option plans this year. And just one insurer will be able to meet the requirement that they reduce premiums 10% next year, relative to 2021 levels.”
  • “The results have not been impressive. People are not opting for public option plans, so state governments are beginning to rig insurance markets in their favor.”
    • “Such intervention reveals that state officials intend for their public options to eventually become the only option for health insurance — at great cost to taxpayers and patients.”

Read the full piece in Newsmax here.

While state public options continue to show meager results, federal proposals for government-controlled health insurance systems, such as the national public option and Medicare buy-in, could be even more unaffordable for Americans:

  • “Public option plans are explicit about cutting payments to doctors and hospitals in order to keep their costs down.” (Forbes, 6/12/23)
    • “It’s hard to understand how lower payments to providers would have no impact on the supply of care they’d be willing to provide.”
  • “Medicare-X would let people buy into a low-cost, government-subsidized insurance plan. In this case, individuals and small businesses could purchase the plan—a modified version of traditional Medicare—on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.”
    • “To keep its own costs down, Medicare-X would simply underpay healthcare providers…”
  • “As more people enroll in Medicare-X, hospitals would bill private insurers more to offset the losses. Private insurers would then hike premiums on enrollees to make up the difference, which would push more people to the subsidized refuge of the public option. And the cycle would repeat.”

Read the full piece in Forbes here.

If Medicare for All were to pass, all private health insurance plans, like the type most Americans receive through employers, would be eliminated, which would increase taxes and health care costs, limit access to care, and create shortages of care:

  • “Most Americans across all income groups would have significantly less disposable income under Medicare for all.” (The Detroit News, 6/29/23)
  • “According to testimony last year by Charles Blahous of George Mason University, the program would cost between $32.6 trillion and $38.8 trillion over 10 years.”
    • “But adding upwards of $3 trillion a year to the federal budget would require huge tax increases.”
  • “Those higher taxes wouldn’t buy much in the way of care. Just look at how patients in government-run systems abroad are faring. In England, a record 7.3 million people are waiting to start hospital treatment. That’s equivalent to more than 10% of the population.”
  • “Medicare for All may be a potent rallying cry for Sen. Sanders and his fellow progressives. But it would leave most Americans with less money and worse care.”

Read the full piece in The Detroit News here.

Research continues to show that unaffordable, government-controlled health insurance systems like the public option, Medicare buy-in, and Medicare for All are unaffordable and ineffective. Instead of implementing sweeping changes to our current health care system that millions of Americans rely on, lawmakers should focus on building on and improving what’s already working in health care to increase access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care.



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