This week, Joe Biden released his healthcare plan. The proposal aims to “protect and build on Obamacare,” most notably by creating a public option, which would allow anyone to buy into a government-sponsored plan.
While explaining his plan to a crowd in Iowa, Biden echoed President Barack Obama. “If, in fact, you have private insurance, you can keep it,” Biden said.
Biden may come to regret that promise, just as his old boss did. A public option would gradually destroy the private insurance market — and ultimately result in single-payer healthcare.
Biden’s public option would be able to under-price private insurers for two reasons. First, it wouldn’t have to break even, much less make a profit. Federal taxpayers would be called on to fill in any gaps in the program’s finances.
Second, it would pay doctors and hospitals Medicare’s rates, which are lower than those for private insurance. One analysis of common procedures revealed that, on average, private insurers paid physicians over 200% more than Medicare. In 2017, hospitals received just 87 cents from Medicare for every dollar they spent caring for the program’s beneficiaries.
Many Americans who shop for coverage on the individual market would therefore opt for the low-cost public option.
Employers may be tempted to scrap the coverage they provide and dump their employees into the public option, too. In 2018, employers paid about $14,000 per worker for family coverage. Many would love to offload that cost onto their employees, with assistance from taxpayers.
As enrollment in the public option swells, doctors and hospitals would need to raise the rates they charge private insurers in order to balance their books. Insurers would raise premiums in response, and yet more people would jump to the public option. The cycle would repeat, until private insurers found themselves without any customers.
Eventually, the public option would be the only option.
Bidencare would wreak havoc on our healthcare system: We must not let it come into being.