Will Democratic front-runners regret rejecting private insurance?

  • Quartz | by: Tim Fernholz |
  • 06/29/2019 12:00 AM
In the first two debates, leading Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders raised their hands when asked if they would abolish private health insurance in favor of a government-run health care plan.

This had conservatives baying for the hunt, and some centrist Democrats worried that the move to fix America’s health was too far, too fast. Will these candidates end up regretting staking this ground if they win their party’s nomination next year?

Bernie Sanders

Sanders, it’s safe to say, regrets nothing. We’re only talking about Medicare for All because of his 2016 presidential run and insistence that taking for-profit actors out of the system is the only way to guarantee universal health care. The senator from Vermont is confident he can make the case to any voter that expanding Medicare is a simple way to fix American health problems. The concern is that half of Americans receive their health care from a private plan, and even if they’re dissatisfied with it, disruption can be scary.

Then there’s the tax-increases. The first question he received last night was whether his plan would raise taxes on middle-income Americans, and he was plainly uncomfortable delivering the answer, “yes.” It’s not that he doesn’t have an argument to make—many Americans would pay less on net for their health care if they received it from the government, even while paying higher taxes. It took him a few minutes to get to this point when pressed at the debate last night, but he might want to lead with it: “Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in healthcare for what they get.”
 

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