Difference Between Medicare for All and Public Option

medicare for all act vs. public option

With the 2020 Presidential Election in full speed along with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the debate over whether or not Medicare for All or Public Option has become a top priority. This debate has grown larger than the Democratic party. There is an overwhelming amount of Republicans supporting the idea of Public Option, as well. But what exactly is the difference between the two ideas of healthcare? And what are their arguments for being the best choice in healthcare over the other one? 

What is Medicare for All exactly? 

Originally written by presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in April of 2019, the Medicare for All Act envisions the creation of a national health insurance program, with coverage provided to everyone, based on the idea that access to healthcare is a human right. As a result, private health insurance would most likely dissipate, along with premiums, cost-sharing, and other additional insurance expenses. 

It is important to note that with this act, more medical needs would be covered and for more people than current Medicare. The Medicare for All Act would cover more things, like hearing, vision, dental, and long-term care, as seen listed here.

An argument for Medicare for All Act

  • A public option would allow companies to continue profiting off the sick.
  • A public option would leave millions uninsured or under-insured. 
  • For-profit insurance company waste would continue under a public option, but not Medicare for All.
  • Coverage under Medicare for All would be guaranteed and more comprehensive than under a public option.
  • There would be no more price gouging by pharmaceutical companies under Medicare for All. 
  • Under Medicare for All, the U.S. would no longer be the only major country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare.

What does Public Option mean?

The idea is that along with the private health insurance plans (that you might have access to through your employer or through the individual insurance exchanges), there would be an option to buy into a government-run insurance program, like Medicare. Private insurance would still exist, but people could choose to get a government insurance plan instead. The idea is that the government might be able to offer a more affordable option for people, which could push down prices in the private insurance world.

An argument for Public Option

  • Medicare for All increases taxpayers’ burden and eliminates private insurers. 
  • Private insurers will be forced to compete with the public option’s lower costs through improved pricing, service, and quality.
  • Americans generally like both private insurance and Medicare but universally deplore their costs.
  • The public option keeps private insurers and controls healthcare costs. 
  • According to the Galen Institute, “While patients in countries with nationalized health systems say they value their access to free care, many pay a very high price in other ways. Tragically, it is often the most vulnerable who are left behind when demand for services outpaces resources.” 
  • The Galen Institute also reports that Medicare’s annual deficits are responsible for one-third of U.S. federal debt.

Biden vs. Bernie

There have been many different public option proposals floating around with different presidential candidates. 

Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, claims that he will fight to stop the reversal of the progress made by Obamacare, that he helped curate as vice president in 2016. He wants to provide Americans with another option, like Medicare, so that those who are covered through their employer, buying their own insurance, or going without coverage altogether have a choice to purchase a public health insurance option. The Biden Plan will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.

Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, of course, is for Medicare for All, as he is the author of an act in 2019. Sanders stands for creating a national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage and free at the point of service. This means no networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills. Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: dental, hearing, vision, and home and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more. He stands for the end of the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off the American people by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs under Medicare for All.


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