Sanders’ health plan to decimate insurance industry and up federal debt by trillions

Some are warning Bernie Sanders’ single-payer system would put carriers out of business and increase the country’s debt by $28 trillion.

Insurance News


The single-payer healthcare system proposed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders Sunday would put health insurance companies, both carriers and agents, out of business and potentially increase the federal debt by $28 million, analysts are saying.

The Democratic presidential hopeful announced his plan just hours before he took the stage in a final debate with party forerunner Hillary Clinton before primary season voting begins.

“Twenty-nine million Americans today still do not have health insurance,” Sanders wrote in a white paper published on his campaign website. “We must achieve the goal of universal healthcare.”

Sanders said his plan would increase federal spending by at least 55%, but save the country money over a period of time.

Yet a memo from Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, estimates a single-payer health system would cost Americans $40.9 trillion from 2017 to 2026. Accounting for the $12.6 trillion the federal government already pays to support the healthcare system, that leaves an additional bill of $28.3 trillion.

The switch to government-provided healthcare would also decimate the insurance industry. With a comprehensive health product, as well as no cost-sharing, there would be no need to consult with agents or purchase policies from Aetna or UnitedHealth Group.

To Sanders, this is a positive development.

“No more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges,” he said.

Continued health reform has been a major topic in the Democratic primary season, and Sanders and Clinton have sparred over the best way to approach it.

Insurance professionals would have more job security under Clinton’s vision, which sees incremental change instead of the complete overhaul Sanders has planned.

If elected, the former Secretary of State says that in addition to pushing for lower drug prices, she will also advocate a $250 per month cap on out-of-pocket drug expenses – a provision that would have to be offered by health insurers. She also promises to more strongly scrutinize health insurance mergers such as those between Anthem and Cigna, and Humana and Aetna.

Republican candidates are unsurprisingly pushing in the opposite direction, advocating everything from removal of the individual mandate and wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

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