The Corner

Politics & Policy

Bidencare vs. Private Health Insurance

Last night, Biden said, “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare.” The second part of that sentence is flatly false. While neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times included it in their fact-checking round-ups about the debate, in 2013 and 2014 the media provided extensive coverage of how Obamacare was causing millions of plan cancellations. (See, for example, this NBC story.)

Trump’s charge at the debate that Biden’s health policies would “terminate” private plans for 180 million people is not plausible. But there could easily be many more losses than there were under Obamacare. I wrote about some of the possibilities for NR a few weeks ago:

As people left private coverage for the public option, prices could well rise for those remaining. Some lines of coverage could disappear because they would no longer be profitable. When the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, got Avalere Health to model a proposal for a strong public option, the consultants found that 18 million people would choose to drop their employer-provided coverage. They also found that another 14 million people would join the new program because their employers had stopped offering coverage. . . .

Biden says that, in addition to creating a public option and lowering the eligibility age for Medicare, he wants to offer new subsidies for people with employer coverage to buy individual policies on Obamacare’s exchanges. That idea could be even more damaging to employer coverage, since it could enable people with lower health risks to defect from their employer plans to get lower premiums. If that happened, the sicker population in employer plans would have to pay higher premiums or see the quality of their coverage degrade.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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