With two out of three front runners in the race to pick a Democratic nominee for president favoring a plan to largely eliminate private health insurance it’s a good moment to ask how this would affect life in the the Insurance Capital.
Among the leading Democrats running for president Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren support a government-run “Medicare for All” strategy -- also know as single-payer health care. Other candidates have been critical, noting the cost of replacing private insurance with a single-payer plan.
Here are some important takeaways:
There’s a lot at stake for both Hartford and Connecticut
Hartford and the rest of Connecticut have lots of private insurance jobs. Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, ConnectiCare, Harvard Pilgrim and United HealthCare employ more than 17,000 people directly and support another 31,000 indirectly in Connecticut, according to a recent study by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.
But would all private health insurance providers be eliminated?
Analysts say that the only procedures you would have to pay for are certain elective and cosmetic procedures so private health insurance could still exist to cover procedures not included under the proposals favored by Sanders and Warren. Insurance companies could still possibly play a role processing claims.
More people would have health insurance
Sanders notes that more than 30 million people are still without health insurance. The legislation would cover all medical services, including primary and preventive care, mental health, vision care, reproductive care and prescription drugs. It would provide tax-financed government health coverage for all Americans. Nearly 200,000 Connecticut residents lack health insurance.
Insurance for all doesn’t come cheap
A study by the Urban Institute estimates that a single-payer program could cost $32 trillion over 10 years. Sanders would pay for the plan through a “tax on extreme wealth.”
Not surprisingly, insurance companies don’t like it
“These proposals will mean higher taxes on all Americans, higher total premiums and costs for the hundreds of millions of people enrolled in private coverage, longer wait times, and lower quality of care,” an insurance trade group says. “To put it simply, patients would pay more to wait longer for worse care. ... We should improve what we already have, rather than starting from scratch or moving in a completely different direction.”
And in Connecticut, only Sen. Richard Blumenthal is a fan.
Most of the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation favor modified Medicare for All plans that would not eliminate a role for private insurance. Only U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal supports the Sanders plan.
“My goal is universal health insurance,” Blumenthal said recently. “And that’s why I’ve endorsed a variety of different solutions. Any one of them will be tremendous progress toward that goal. I am not in favor of abolishing or eliminating private insurance for its own sake.”
Democratic voters still aren’t so sure, however
Support for Medicare-for-all has narrowed in recent months, with 51% now saying they favor a national health plan and 47% opposed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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