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ColoradoCare Part 2: “Why it will Pass”

Den Bishop
Den Bishop
Senior Advisor

The winds of healthcare change are blowing in Colorado. The clouds are gathering, but will there actually be rain? The following factors could simultaneously converge to create an overhaul in how healthcare is funded in the state through the passage of Amendment 69, or ColoradoCare (to view what ColoradoCare is, check out my previous post: ColoradoCare Part 1: The Basics).

Healthcare Is a Right

Proponents of universal healthcare argue that healthcare is a right and not a privilege or responsibility. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) guaranteed every American access to health insurance coverage through its removal of medical underwriting. Put simply, insurance companies can no longer deny, cancel, or increase the cost of coverage because of health conditions. However, many believe the ACA didn’t go far enough. ColoradoCare is built on the belief that it’s the government’s responsibility to not just guarantee access to coverage but to also collect the taxes to fund coverage for all.

Berning Up the Cold War

Bernie Sanders has had a profound impact on the healthcare debate. Bernie has burned up many of the historical perceptions of what is politically popular. He’s not even a Democrat and almost nearly won the Democratic nomination for President. He’s a self-proclaimed Socialist. There was a time — and it wasn’t that long ago — that anyone running for office in the United States as a Socialist would have been completely ignored as irrelevant. Bernie proved the Cold War is over! He not only made Socialism an acceptable, if not popular, term, but he also figured out how to talk about healthcare.

Crowds don’t erupt in applause for the term “single-payer.” The term sounds restrictive. He used the phrase “Medicare for all.” It means the same thing but sounds much more inclusive and liberating. Crowds loved it! By the way, Senator Sanders received approximately 40 percent more votes than Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in Colorado.

Uncertain Problems

The cost of healthcare coverage is a mystery for many Americans. They don’t know how much the premium will cost next year, but they know it will be more than this year. The individual insurance market in Colorado is in the midst of a “market correction.” United Healthcare and Humana will no longer offer coverage in 2017. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will no longer offer a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network but will continue to offer its more restrictive Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) network. Anthem has filed for a 26.8 percent rate increase on its HMO network. Uncertainty around network availability and price is fueling support for a government solution.

Consumers don’t know how much it will cost when they go to the doctor or hospital. Out-of-pocket financial exposure has skyrocketed through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket limits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015 which stated, “Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”  Ironically, or sadly, the same report indicated that 46 percent of individuals who experienced a major unexpected medical expense owe debt from the expense.

Employers — who fund the majority of the cost — don’t feel much better about their ability to predict or influence future costs.

ColoradoCare brings economic certainty to business owners and to employees through its fixed 10 percent payroll tax. Employers pay 6.67 percent of compensation, and employees pay 3.33 percent of compensation in ColoradoCare taxes. To further bring certainty, the plan design (although yet to be designed) has no deductible so that consumers can better predict out-of-pocket costs.

The Colorado Spirit

Colorado takes pride in being first. It was the first state to sell alcohol legally after prohibition. It was the first state to legalize marijuana. Why not be the first state to socialize healthcare financing? People aren’t passionately satisfied with the current healthcare financing. Fear of the unknown drives those protecting the current system more than love for the current state. This general feeling of malaise opens the door for an enthusiastic media blitz in the weeks before the election.

Would progressive groups like moveon.org love to have a state create a single-payer, universal healthcare system? You bet they would. Big rate increases, 6.7 percent uninsured rate in the state, medical debt for people who HAVE insurance, and perceived insurance company greed motivation can all combine for an effective media blitz that could put the current system on its heels in the weeks or days before Coloradans go to the polls in November.

Is it possible for the clouds to gather to create the perfect storm for the state of Colorado to socialize healthcare financing? Stay tuned for more information as the storm develops! And don’t forget to check in the next couple of Mondays, where we’ll be addressing:

In the meantime, don’t forget to ask questions if you have them. You can comment below or reach out directly. The more we all understand what’s going on, the better we all are!

Read more about similar healthcare proposals in the updated version: https://www.holmesmurphy.com/2020/02/deeper-dive-medicare-for-all/ 

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