2020 Democratic Presidential candidate’s Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders support a single-payer “Medicare for All” healthcare plan with zero copays and zero deductibles. Other candidates, like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, etc., support some form of a public option, whether it’s called a public option, a Medicare buy-in, “Medicare for all who want it”, etc.

My question is, do any of the Democratic Presidential candidates who favor a public option want their public option to have zero copays and zero deductibles, akin to the Medicare for All plan mentioned above?

  • 2
    I'm going to guess that you're not going to find specific numbers like this (and if you do, they won't really be meaningful) since we're still over a year out from the election, and any plan is likely to look totally different by the time it gets through Congress.
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 15:38
  • Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to answer the question or debate its subject. If you would like to answer, please post a real answer which adheres to our quality standards.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


Buttigieg would renegotiate with pharmaceutical companies and take away the patents on those companies that refuse to negotiate. He wants to cap monthly out-of-pocket drug costs at $200 for Medicare recipients and $250 for public option recipients. He would eliminate the copay on generic drugs.

Biden wants to cap copays at $1000, though many believe he gaffed and meant deductibles. He's mentioned wanting to increase tax credits to those who make 100-400% of the poverty limit to offset their healthcare costs, and capping overall costs at 8.5% of someone's income. He would also negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Yang wants to reduce prescription costs by renegotiating with pharmaceutical companies based on what other countries are paying, increase telehealth services, pay physicians a salary rather than a fee-for-service system, and pay lawmakers higher salaries in exchange for a ban on post-congress lobbying, but has given no concrete numbers on what the results of these will be in dollars paid by consumers.

Klobuchar would improve the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs for consumers by expanding premium subsidies and providing cost-sharing reductions to lower out-of-pocket health care costs like copays and deductibles.

Both Bloomberg and Steyer want to add a public option run by the Medicare/Medicaid people that would lower premiums and deductibles, but not eliminate them.

Bottom line, no candidate other than Sanders has committed to $0 copays/deductibles, but all have plans for reducing the financial burden of healthcare, most notably removing the ban on Medicare negotiating its own drug prices and funding a government-run public option.

  • This is an incomplete answer, I don’t want to just know about these three, I want to know about any the Democratic Presidential candidates supporting a public option want it to have zero copays and zero deductibles. If you expand your answer to include the rest of the candidates I’m happy to accept it. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 2:30
  • @KeshavSrinivasan: the candidates who propose the public option often argue that it would be cheaper [tax wise at least] than Medicare for All. Since the point of copays & deductibles is to reduce "moral hazard" and cost to insurers by passing on some of the cost to consumers, it would be rather incongruous to propose a zero copay public option. Sanders who was among the first to propose medicare for all did not initially propose zero copays. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 19:47
  • "pay lawmakers higher salaries in exchange for a ban on post-congress lobbying" is this a typo, or do you have some kind of citation for that? I'm surprised.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 9:03
  • @bobsburner cnbc.com/2019/01/11/…
    – Carduus
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 13:55
  • I assumed you meant peeps from the legislative branch in that claim. (I read president in that cnbc link) G'job getting source though, I'd suggest editing it into your answer. (although, that claim isn't related to answering the question, IMO)
    – bobsburner
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 14:05

As of writing, none of the 2020 Democratic candidates have expressed support for a public option with $0 copays/$0 deductibles.

They either:

  • Prefer Medicare for All/single payer instead of a public option.
  • Have released plans to lower copays/deductibles, but do not say they will be $0.
  • Do not mention copays/deductibles at all, instead focusing elsewhere to reduce cost.

Details about Biden, Buttigieg, and Yang can be found in @Carduus's excellent answer. The rest of the candidates are below:

Michael Bennet introduced the Medicare-X Choice Act of 2019, which seeks to reduce costs through a reinsurance program and by expanding tax subsidies, also capping premiums at 13% of an individual's income.

Michael Bloomberg wants to lower general health care costs by capping drug prices and capping how much doctors/hospitals can charge out-of-network patients. His public plan would be free for low-income people in states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA.

John Delaney's BetterCare proposal seeks to decouple insurance from employment by automatically enrolling people into a government health plan. Those people can opt-out of enrollment and instead receive a tax credit to buy private insurance.

Amy Klobuchar wants to to lower copays/deductibles by increasing ACA subsidies and providing cost-sharing reductions. In addition, she has co-sponsored the State Public Option Act, which states it will:

(A) impose premiums, deductibles, cost-sharing, or other similar charges that are actuarially fair[.]

Deval Patrick is scheduled to release a healthcare proposal sometime this month. As of today (Jan 15th, 2020), it has not been released. However, his site claims it will create a public option "that is free to some and low cost to others".

Tom Steyer wants to lower costs by renegotiating payment rates to providers, expanding ACA subsidies, and requiring all doctors to accept the same insurance as the in-network hospitals they work at.

Elizabeth Warren supports creating a public option within her first 100 days, then over time transitioning to the Medicare for All Act of 2017. However, I've found no evidence that her public option and $0 copays/$0 deductibles will happen at the same time.

Gabbard co-sponsored the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which has the same language as the Sanders bill, but without the exceptions. Her official platform states 'I support a single-payer system that will allow individuals to access private insurance if they choose.' She says there is a 'role for private insurance', making reference to Canada's system (a government run program supplemented by optional private insurance). She has made some statements in interviews saying she favors consumer choice and allowing people to keep their current insurance if they wish.

While the candidates all express a desire to lower health care costs, the ones who support a public option don't seem to focus on copays/deductibles specifically (and many don't even mention them). Instead, they primarily focus on lowering prescription drug prices, premiums, or general "health care costs".

When a candidate does mention copays/deductibles, they say they will lower them, but do not specifically say they will be $0. Klobuchar seems to be speaking the most about deductibles (at least in what I have found), but again, only lowering them, not making them zero.

  • Tulsi Gabbard no longer supports single payer. She’s a public option supporter now. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 14:55
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Would you mind linking a source? Gabbard's campaign website still claims she supports a single payer system and Medicare for All. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:24
  • She says in this interview about how people can keep their private insurance if they want: t.co/zjkYutbd21?amp=1 Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:46
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Saying that Gabbard does not support single payer and supports a public option is false. She continues to support a single-payer system in her official platform and in the interview you linked, she expresses support for Medicare for All. She also says that "there is a role for private insurance to play". Saying private insuance has a role does not mean support for a public option. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 16:37
  • Single payer systems that exist currently, such as in Canada (which served as a basis for the existing Medicare for All bills), have private insurance in some form. See here. A good description of that the candidates mean when they say "public option" can be found here. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 16:43

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