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At the Democratic primary debates, the moderators asked for a show of hands for candidates that wanted to move to fully public health insurance, eliminating employer-based private insurance. Specifically, the question as given in the transcript was:

Many people watching at home have health insurance through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favorite of a government-run plan?

This has been criticized, since people that are happy with their health insurance (if they exist) would have to change their coverage. What is the advantage of proposing the elimination of employer-based private insurance, given that it seems to attract criticism to the proposal?

This answer suggests that allowing private insurance might lead to the development of a "two-tier system" or for the rich to reduce the budgets of private healthcare. While these are possible explanations, the previous answer is given in another context and doesn't specifically address why these candidates (Warren and de Blasio in the first night and Sanders and Harris in the second night) believe this? Have the candidate's statements given reasons similar to those from this answer?

Harris has since clarified that her plan would allow supplemental private insurance.

  • Can you link or quote the specifics of the question? I don't think fully public health insurance necessarily means eliminating private insurance. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jun 29 '19 at 19:29
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    The link you cite isn't an editorial. It's an opinion piece by a conservative columnist. – Denis de Bernardy Jun 29 '19 at 19:39
  • Isn't the point not that they'd change their coverage, but that they wouldn't need coverage at all? Healthcare rather than health insurance? Or have I misunderstood the positions ? – Jontia Jun 29 '19 at 19:39
  • @Brythan provided a link to the transcript, which I've added above. – WaterMolecule Jun 29 '19 at 23:54
  • the link you provided to "supplemental private insurance" is dead. – BobE Jun 30 '19 at 3:36
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Why are some 2020 Democratic candidates insisting on outlawing private insurance

At the Democratic primary debates, the moderators asked for a show of hands for candidates that wanted to move to fully public health insurance, apparently eliminating private insurance.

That's not at all what was asked. The question, per the transcript was: "Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?" Firstly, this is definitely not: "who wants to outlaw private insurance?" And secondly, keep in mind that the hosts only asked questions that purposely seemed to be as divisive as they could get away with, in the hopes of surfacing where the candidates disagree rather than agreed on.

The point is they'd become useless, rather than outlawed.

I should add in passing: this doesn't mean they'd be pointless. Where I live you get free healthcare -- no credit card needed. But if you've an emergency you'd better have private insurance because the waiting list is months long if not. Speaking personally I find this deeply offensive. But I could totally imagine the US ending up with such a system as a compromise.

As far as I know, many other countries with public health insurance also have a private insurance industry.

I live in one of those countries. The only thing they're happy with is that, as bad as it is, how it works isn't as screwed up as things are in the US or developing countries. FWIW I'd trade the system I pay into for some of the plans being promoted by some Democrat candidates in a heartbeat.

What is the advantage of proposing the elimination of private insurance, given that it seems to attract criticism to the proposal?

Private health insurance is parasitical in nature. There's no such thing as health insurance. Insurance is about risk. Bad health is a not a risk: it's a certainty at one point or another in your life -- and indeed, many points.

In contrast with events like your house burning down or your life ending, health problems are just commonplace. As such health "insurances" fall in between two extremes: a sort of non-profit cooperative at best (France has plenty of examples of those), and a for-profit leech at worse (see the US for examples).


Edit, seeing that the question got edited:

"When Warren and Kamala Harris raised their hands and said that they would eliminate employer-based health insurance, they made the most important gesture of the campaign so far."

Yeah... by advocating to abolish modern forms of slavery for all practical intents. No one should be losing their health insurance when they lose their job or change jobs.

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Fortunately, we have a night one transcript:

HOLT: All right. We’re going to turn to the issue of health care right now and really try to understand where there may or may not be daylight between you. Many people watching at home have health insurance coverage through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan? Just a show of hands, start off with.

And on night two

HOLT: And this is going to be a show of hands question. We asked a question about health care last night that spurred a lot of discussion, as you know. We're going to do it again now. Many people watching at home have health insurance through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favorite of a government-run plan?

This is pretty unequivocal. Who here would abolish the private health insurance of the people watching in favor of a government-run plan.

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    Too bad that Holt asked this question this way - because the "their" could be construed to mean the candidate's personal insurance plan - rather than what I think he meant to say was 'Who here would abolish everyone's private health insurance....' And actually the answers should be more nuanced (as Harris has realized) to respond to supplemental private HC insurance as many millions currently utilize in addition to traditional Medicare. – BobE Jun 30 '19 at 3:33
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    I don't think this answers the question which is about advantages of abolishing. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jul 1 '19 at 22:13

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