Justin Haskins: Biden's health care plan – here's how it's just as radical and dangerous as Bernie's

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Throughout the Democratic presidential primaries, one of the major issues dividing the candidates was how to best overhaul our health care system to ensure that everyone in our nation could get the medical attention they need – either at no cost or at an affordable price.

On one side, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called for revolutionary change – “Medicare-for-all” that would give everyone “free” health care and put private insurance companies out of business.

While the two far-left senators didn’t like to talk about who would pay for “free” health care, their plans would have cost trillions of dollars, busted the federal budget and hit us all with massive tax increases. In light of the multitrillion-dollar deficit now being run up to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the Sanders and Warren plans look even more harmful today.

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On the other side of the health care debate, many of the other more than two dozen Democrats originally vying for their party’s presidential nomination sought to portray themselves as moderates.

With varying programs, these candidates promised to build on ObamaCare and preached evolution rather than revolution. They claimed they would preserve the employer-based health insurance system covering most Americans, while making health care available via some sort of “public option” to those who wanted it.

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Now that all the Democratic candidates except former Vice President Joe Biden have dropped out of the nomination race, we need to give a closer look to his supposedly moderate health care plan. When we do, we see it turns out to be a fraud and a scam – as revolutionary and destructive as the Sanders-Warren plans.  \

The only significant difference is that Biden’s plan will take longer to destroy America’s health care system – now the envy of much of the world. In fact, BidenCare could be even more of a nightmare than “Medicare-for-all.”

Biden’s plan, like all the others presented by Democrats in recent years, is full of complexities, but the foundational elements of the proposal are that it would do four things:

  • Create “a public health insurance option like Medicare.” 
  • Dramatically increase subsidies for individuals and families purchasing insurance through an ObamaCare exchange. 
  • Roll back some of the deregulatory efforts made by the Trump administration. 
  • Use the new public option as a replacement for Medicaid in the 14 states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs under ObamaCare. 

Additionally, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has also called for reducing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.

Taken together, the main provisions in Biden’s plan would have a catastrophic impact on the U.S. health care system, driving up costs for the more than 100 million people who receive health insurance in the ObamaCare exchanges or through an employer.

Biden’s proposal is designed to move more Americans into a government-managed plan, whether that be his proposed Medicare-like public option or his expansion of Medicare.

Under the former vice president’s proposal, tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured, stuck with a high-cost ObamaCare plan or enrolled in a private insurance plan would instead enroll in the public option for health insurance, where government will use its power to negotiate lower rates paid to health care providers, just as government now does with Medicaid and Medicare.

After ObamaCare went into effect, health insurance deductibles and premiums in many parts of the country doubled because of policies similar to those now offered by Biden. There is no reason to think that won’t happen again under Biden’s plan.  

Pushing tens of millions of people into a government-managed plan means health care providers across the country will suddenly be forced to treat millions more people for much less money than they receive from patients with private health insurance plans. Medicare and Medicaid only pay about 90 percent of what it costs to treat a patient – and the public option would be no different.

To make up lost revenues, health care providers will need to substantially increase the amount they charge patients with private health insurance, causing private health insurance rates to skyrocket.

Although Biden’s plan promises to help people purchasing private health insurance by increasing government subsidies that reduce monthly health insurance premiums, it won’t be nearly enough to offset the added costs resulting from millions of people enrolling in a public option.

In addition, subsidies won’t help reduce the increased deductibles that people with private health insurance will have to pay when costs increase. That means millions more people who have health insurance won’t be able to afford to actually use it.

After ObamaCare went into effect, health insurance deductibles and premiums in many parts of the country doubled because of policies similar to those now offered by Biden. There is no reason to think that won’t happen again under Biden’s plan.

However, this time, there will be a public option plan available for people with private health insurance to escape to, incentivizing tens of millions of additional Americans to leave their private plans for the lower-cost government offering.

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This will undoubtedly create a death spiral for the private health insurance industry. As costs go up, prices will increase and fewer people will be able to afford private health plans. The more people who move into the public option, the worse the problem will get, until private health insurance is only something the richest among us can afford.

This will, in effect, create a two-tier health care system, as many of the best providers will only accept private health insurance – until, that is, the federal government puts an end to that practice, at which time everyone will be incentivized to join a government-managed plan.

Over time, the more “moderate” Biden plan will almost certainly push the United States into adopting a single-payer model like the one proposed by Sanders and Warren. That means we would all be subjected to the same problems that plague single-payer systems around the world – health care rationing, chronic underfunding and long wait times, just to name a few.

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This is why the only real difference between Biden’s plan and “Medicare-for-all” is that Biden’s plan will take longer to move America to a single-payer model and will drive up half the country’s health insurance bills on the road to getting there.

That hardly sounds like a more “moderate” way forward to me.

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