Joe Biden’s Health Care Plan Includes Public Option for Employees

July 19, 2019

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden rolled out his health care reform plan, which would preserve the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act while adding a broad new government-run public insurance option, expand premium tax credits for individual coverage, and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The plan would expand coverage by:

  • Creating a public option that would be available to everyone, including employees, which could have implications for how employers decide to structure their health benefits;

  • Offering premium-free access to the public option for the 4.9 million low income individuals in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA; and

  • Making the ACA’s premium tax credits for individual coverage more generous and available to those with higher incomes.

The plan would also address high drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, limiting the “launch” prices of certain drugs, limiting price increases, and allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries.

The plan would be paid for by “getting rid of capital gains tax loopholes for the super wealthy,” and would “roll back the Trump rate cut for the very wealthy and restore the 39.6% top rate.”

Takeaway:  The Biden plan poses a sharp contrast with other presidential candidates who have embraced a Medicare for All approach that would eliminate employment-based health coverage.  While the public option has been criticized in some quarters as a step towards imposing a single-payer system, the divisions among the various Democratic candidates on this issue are likely to sharpen in the coming months.