Do 160 Million Americans Really Like Their Health Plans? Kind Of

This reality test was produced in partnership with PolitiFact. This story will be republished without spending a dime (details).

Articulating his proposal for health care reform, former Vice President Joe Biden emphasized the number of Americans who, he said, were more than perfectly satisfied with the coverage they have.

“160 million people like their private insurance,” Biden said  during the November Democratic presidential primary debate.

That argument is at the heart of many moderate Democrats’ criticism of the “Medicare for All” proposal backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). We decided to take a closer look.

We reached out to the Biden campaign for comment. The campaign directed us to his next point — that people who don’t like their private coverage could, under his health plan, opt into government-sponsored coverage.

160 Million, And Some Squishy Polling

The figure appears to refer to the number of Americans who receive health benefits through work — so-called “employer-sponsored health insurance.” Under Medicare for All that would no longer be an option.

On first blush, polling seems to suggest that most people with employer-sponsored coverage like it.

Polling done earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the Los Angeles Times discovered that the majority beneficiaries are “generally satisfied” with this insurance coverage. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially unbiased program of the inspiration.)

But that doesn’t get on the complete story.

“Most like their policy, but not all,” stated Robert Blendon, a well being care pollster at Harvard T.H.  Chan School of Public Health.

The context issues.

In the identical KFF/L.A. Times ballot, about 40% of individuals with employer-sponsored protection stated they’d bother paying medical payments, out-of-pocket prices or premiums. About half indicated going with out or delaying well being care as a result of — even with this protection — it was unaffordable. And about 17% reported making “difficult sacrifices” to pay for well being care.

Beneficiaries who’ve larger deductible plans — that, they’re required to pay bigger sums of out-of-pocket earlier than well being protection kicks in — are additionally much less prone to be pleased with their protection, and extra prone to report issues paying for well being care.

And it’s additionally value noting that these high-deductible plans have grown increasingly common, even for the 160 million Americans who get insurance coverage from work, although that trend may now be losing steam. Research from the Commonwealth Fund, in the meantime, notes that growing numbers of “underinsured” individuals do in reality have employer-sponsored medical health insurance. Underinsured individuals are those that have protection however delay care as a result of they nonetheless can’t afford it.

Meanwhile, different polling, reminiscent of a January Gallup survey, means that about 7 in 10 Americans consider the nation’s well being care system is in disaster.

So whereas Americans might individually not categorical frustration with their particular non-public plans, extra are studying that, after they attempt to really use that protection, it doesn’t meet their well being wants.

These findings forged vital shade on the concept all 160 million Americans with employer-sponsored protection really prefer it.

Our Ruling

Biden argued that “160 million people like their private insurance.”

A cursory take a look at polling would counsel that the general public he’s speaking about — Americans who get protection by way of work — are pleased with their plans.

But when you dig a bit of deeper, that narrative will get extra difficult. Even whereas Americans say they like their plans, giant proportions point out that the non-public protection they’ve nonetheless leaves significant gaps, requiring them to skip or delay well being care as a result of they can not afford it.

Biden’s argument is technically appropriate, nevertheless it leaves out vital context and depends on a considerably squishy quantity. We price it Half True.

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