Over Half of Major U.S. Employers Support Medicare Expansion

business people walking with words Medicare expansion above them

According to a survey from the National Business Group on Health, 55 percent of all major employers in the United States support some version of Medicare expansion. Though these employers are split on how far the national healthcare program should be expanded, they agree that it would decrease the burden of healthcare spending significantly should Medicare be expanded. 

The National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) is a non-profit organization dedicated to representing large employers’ perspectives on healthcare innovation, management, and policy. The group represents 440 major U.S. employers, including Chevron, Wells Fargo, and Nike. 

The 147 employers surveyed collectively provide health coverage to more than 15.6 million employees as well as their dependents. The industries represented by the NBGH include retail, hospitality, and food service; manufacturing; banking; and technology. 

The survey results

The employers were asked which specific Medicare expansion would work best for their company, employees, and the employees’ dependents. 

  1. Age of eligibility. Among the employers surveyed, 23 percent wanted to drop the Medicare age of eligibility to 60, 23 percent wanted to drop it to 50, and 9 percent wanted to drop it to 55. 
  2. Medicare public option. Around 72 percent of employers agreed that a Medicare public option would decrease the number of uninsured Americans, but they feared it would also increase tax rates and overall healthcare costs. 
  3. Medicare for All. The majority of employers surveyed strongly opposed a single-payer system like Medicare for All, citing the potential for a decrease in healthcare quality and innovation. 

Other proposals for Medicare expansion 

The survey was inspired by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ push for Medicare expansion. Like these major U.S. employers, most of the candidates have differing ideas on how Medicare should be reformed. Here are several proposals on the table for Medicare expansion. 

  1. Medicare for All. Written by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and endorsed by fellow candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the Medicare for All bill was among the first written for single-payer healthcare. 
  2. Medicare for All Who Want It. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate in the race, thinks a Medicare buy-in option (colloquially called Medicare for All Who Want It) will gradually move the country to a single-payer system without taking private, employer-sponsored insurance away from anyone. 
  3. Medicare for America. Endorsed by former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Medicare for America also advocates for a gradual move to a single-payer system, covering those who are currently uninsured or underinsured, and expanding benefits. 
  4. Medicare expansion with private insurance. Days before the second round of presidential Democratic debates, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) released a Medicare reform plan which would leave private insurance intact. 

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