Fact Check: Sanders Says People Don’t Like Private Insurance

Bernie Sanders wants to be president, but he has a problem — he’s a socialist relic, way out to the left of what the American people are ever going to elect if he runs on what he actually believes. To get around this problem, he’s trying to come up with eye-catching populist ideas that will get him into the White House, so he can actually start turning the US into Venezuela. One of his ideas is “Medicare for all,” which he thinks is a vote winner because, as he says, people don’t like private health insurance. But is this true?

Highlights

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to radically shake up the US health system by bringing in Medicare for all and banning private insurance. According to Sanders, this is a popular policy because Medicare is the most popular health plan in the US and people don’t like private insurance. The trouble is, if you look at the polling data, Sanders isn’t exactly wrong, but he’s also a long way from right.

  • It’s true that Medicare is the most popular health insurance program in the US. Is anyone surprised at that? If you’re eligible for Medicare — over 65 or with certain disabilities — it’s basically free. So when a 2018 Gallup poll says 75% of people covered by Medicare think it’s working well, is that actually impressive? Maybe we should be more interested in why 25% of people who get free or nearly free health care don’t think it’s working well.
  • Private health insurance is less popular than Medicare — but that doesn’t mean it’s unpopular. Yes, people are less likely to be satisfied with what their care costs them — but a majority still are. The same Gallup poll found that 51% of people with private insurance were satisfied with their costs, compared to 70% of Medicare users.
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  • Health insurance companies are unpopular, with 51% disliking them and only 44% having a favorable view, but actual private health insurance is liked by most of the people who use it — and that’s been the case for years.
  • Even in countries with socialized medicine, private insurance is popular. The UK has its National Health Service that’s totally free at the point of use, but 10% of the population is willing to pay for private coverage. In Germany, where most people are insured through state-supervised health funds, they had to pass a law to stop people earning below $61,000 a year from switching to private plans.
  • If Bernie thinks banning private insurance is a vote winner, he’s very wrong. A poll this past January found that 56% of Americans think Medicare for all is a good idea, based on the general concept — but if you tell them the plan involves eliminating private insurance that falls to just 37%.
  • Sanders is wrong about private insurance being unpopular, and he’s even more wrong about his health plans being his ticket to the Oval Office.
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