Why Vote for Joe? Expanded Access to Healthcare Through a Public Option

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Joe Biden has a plan to expand access to healthcare and lower costs by giving all Americans a choice to enroll in a Medicare-like insurance plan and making targeted investments to help bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

The Biden healthcare plan has five main pillars:

1. Create a Medicare-like public option to compete with private insurance plans and allow all Americans, including those who have access to employer-sponsored plans, the choice to enroll.

2. Expand the Affordable Care Act to allow more people to purchase plans at a lower cost. The Biden Plan will eliminate the income cap on tax credit eligibility and increase the amount of subsidies available by pegging credits to the highest-level gold plans. With this restructuring, no one would fall into the trap of making too much to qualify for credits but too little to afford coverage.

3. Stop surprise billing and increase transparency in healthcare costs. Surprise billing can happen when you visit an in-network facility for a covered service and then receive unexpected surcharges like a technician’s fee or hospital room charge. The Biden plan outlaws these practices and stops providers from billing out-of-network costs for things like emergency care or transport where the patient had no choice of provider.

4. Lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 60, which would make approximately 20 million more Americans able to participate. This takes higher-risk individuals from the private market while putting relatively lower-risk individuals into the Medicare risk pool, helping to stabilize both. People between the ages of 60 and 64 could choose to keep their employer-sponsored plans.

5. Lower prescription drug prices with a combination of market forces and regulation. First, Medicare would be allowed to negotiate with corporations for lower drug prices. Individuals would be able to purchase drugs from foreign countries where they are less expensive. Biden also proposes pegging the rate of acceptable drug price increases to the rate of inflation and creating an independent review board to assess the fairness of prices for drugs that do not face market pressures to keep them lower.

Biden’s plan guarantees no Americans will pay more than 8.5% of their income toward insurance premiums. And the AARP estimates that if Medicare could negotiate for lower drug prices, it could have saved $14.4 billion in 2016 alone. Biden wants to expand access for all, not preserve it for only the wealthy.

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Fact Quotes

What Biden is now proposing is different. According to his campaign, “whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare.”

Everyone, in other words, will have the option to enroll in the public option with potentially big implications for how employers decide to structure their health benefits.

Envisioned as an enhancement of the ACA, Americans would have a choice of signing up for a “Medicare-like” plan (public option) or maintaining their private coverage. The public option would be available to anyone, including the uninsured and beneficiaries choosing plans in the ACA exchanges.