At least two months ago, someone asked me if I could explain the healthcare debate that is happening within the Democratic primary. I’m a little bit late, but here’s my high level take on the debate.
Why does this matter?
The United States is the only developed country that does not officially provide universal healthcare coverage. And there are two massive problems with that.
First, we actually DO provide universal care, because regardless of someone’s ability to pay for treatment, we agree that allowing someone to die in the street is immoral. Our public hospitals and emergency rooms care for patients all the time who have no insurance coverage. Those patients can’t afford preventative care, and often by the time they seek treatment, the care they need is urgent and costly. Either those bills go unpaid or the patients go bankrupt attempting to pay. Either way, those costs are passed along to everyone else in the form of increased cost of care.
Second, our health care is a for profit, bureaucratic mess. Insurance companies are in the profit business, and while there may be competition to offer lower priced insurance plans, those plans are designed to cover as little as possible. The insurance provider is incentivized to keep the paperwork complicated and the consumer confused. Front line healthcare providers may try to do the right thing by patients, but even then corporate interests of the provider is often put above the interests of patients. The result is that insurance companies cover as little as possible, and providers bill as much as possible. Americans are avoiding necessary preventative care, and then going bankrupt paying for emergency care.
The candidates in the Democratic primary field largely agree that something has to change.
There are basically two approaches: Single Payer and Public Option.
Single Payer – often referred to as “Medicare for All” – proposes that all Americans are covered by a government run health insurance program. All Americans have standard health care costs covered under the same plan.
Public Option – sometimes referred to as “Medicare for All Who Want It” – proposes that all Americans have an option to buy into a government run health insurance plan, essentially expanding a Medicare option for all Americans regardless of age.
Where do the candidates stand on the issue?
(Yes, I left some candidates off this image. There are just still too many.)
There will be a follow-up post going into more detail on “single payer” versus “public option”. (There might be an additional follow-up on candidate nuances in their approaches.)
Did I get anything here incorrect? Would you have stated something differently? Feel free to weigh in with thoughts, questions, or respectful disagreement!