Aug 1, 2019

Democrats' subtle fight about who pays for health care

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Although it was anything but straightforward, last night's Democratic health care debate was partially about who pays for health care and how they pay for it.

Case in point: Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden brought up copays and deductibles in their spat about, among other things, whether to eliminate the employer insurance system.

  • Addressing the fact that the most liberal Medicare for All plans would offer care without deductibles, Biden said, "The fact of the matter is that there will be a deductible — there will be a deductible in their paycheck."

The big picture: We currently pay for health care through taxes, premiums and our out-of-pocket spending. Medicare for All — whether it's full-blown single payer or a public option — shifts at least some of that spending on premiums and deductibles onto taxpayers.

  • That shift would likely hit higher income brackets and corporations harder than lower ones, depending on how the plan is structured.

The bottom line: How receptive Americans are to a more expansive version of Medicare for All is almost certainly related to how they feel about their increasing out-of-pocket obligations.

Related: President Trump is prepping an executive order for next week that's focused on strengthening Medicare, WSJ reports. A White House official said that the order is intended to serve as a point of contrast with Democrats' Medicare for All push.

Go deeper: Workers' health care costs just keep rising

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The growing employer health care crisis

Reproduced from Peter-Kaiser Health System Tracker; Chart: Axios Visuals

The past decade has seen enormous growth in health care costs paid by both employees and employers, creating the context for some of today's biggest political debates as well as teeing up more problems for the future.

Yes, but: There are some signs that employers have maxed out their ability to shift costs to employees.

Go deeperArrowAug 16, 2019

The looming crisis in long-term care

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Taking care of the aging population is a crisis in the making, and no one — not families, not government programs and not the health care workforce — is prepared for it.

The big picture: Providing health care to aging Baby Boomers will strain Medicare’s finances, but the problem is even bigger than that.

Go deeperArrowAug 19, 2019

Health care is gobbling up your wages

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

American incomes have barely changed over the past 20 years on an inflation-adjusted basis, and that's due in large part to the exploding costs of health coverage.

The big picture: More people are plunging deeper into debt as the costs of housing, college and consumer goods greatly outgrow their paychecks. And those paychecks have been stagnant because employers are shoveling more money toward workers' health insurance.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019