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What History Tells Us About The Public Option


Published November 17, 2020

The health insurance public option promises to charge consumers premiums that fully cover its cost. But the history of federal health care programs tells us that Congress will inevitably subsidize enrollees. Instead of costing taxpayers nothing, the public option would quickly become a costly new government program.

Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the difference between the public option and a single-payer system?
  2. How would public-option proposals affect the current Medicare program?'

Additional Resources

  • Watch “The Public Option’s True Cost,” by Lanhee Chen. Available here.
  • Read “The Budget and Tax Effects of a Federal Public Option after COVID-19,” by Lanhee Chen, Tom Church, and Daniel Heil. Available here.
  • Read “Biden’s Public Option Would Mean Massive Tax Hikes,” by Lanhee Chen and Daniel Heil. Available here.