The Supreme Court decision will not eliminate the private insurers

Private Insurance Is Bankrupting Americans: Is Congress Paying Attention?

By Diane Archer
Health Affairs Blog, June 26, 2012

Over the last decade, health insurance costs doubled for the average family of four, and health costs ate away at real income, eliminating any wage gains that occurred.

Health insurance premiums (for both employers and workers) now amount to one-quarter of median family income and are projected to rise to 35 percent in the next decade. And these higher premiums are buying thinner and thinner coverage: We are paying more and more every time we go to the doctor or hospital – deductibles and copays have risen rapidly over the last decade. The share of workers paying a deductible greater than $1,000 has risen from 10 percent to over 30 percent since 2006.

Costs are rising for employers as well, and the share of workers who even receive insurance from their employer is plummeting, having fallen from more than 69 percent to 61 percent in the last 10 years.  Meanwhile, fewer large employers continue to offer supplemental coverage to retirees. Since the early 1990s, the percentage of large employers offering retiree coverage has fallen from 40 percent to only 21 percent.

Shifting Americans with Medicare into private pools is not a serious solution to the rising cost of health care, given the far higher costs in the private sector. Privatizing Medicare, or even raising the age of eligibility and forcing more of our parents and grandparents into the commercial market, would actually raise overall costs, and it would only save the government money by forcing more of the cost burden onto people who cannot afford it.


By Don McCanne, MD

Regardless of tomorrow's Supreme Court decision on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the status quo is dependent on private insurance and the Affordable Care Act model is dependent on private insurance, yet private insurance has been a miserable failure.

You don't have to wait until tomorrow to decide what approach should be taken in response to the Supreme Court decision. You can start immediately with efforts to replace the private insurers with an improved Medicare for all.