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More Employers Favor Government Intervention into Health Insurance

Published October 13, 2020

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A recent survey suggests private U.S. employers are becoming increasingly open to Medicare expansion and federally regulated drug prices. 

About half of the survey respondents said that a Medicare public health insurance option would be helpful, while more than three-quarters claimed some government regulation of drug prices and hospital rates would be either “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful.”

The survey included 165 employers nationwide and was conducted by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, which represents employers that provide health benefits to their workers.

Many employers support drug price regulation and cost transparency

The survey comes at a time when hospitals are consolidating, market competition is shrinking and the cost of pharmaceutical drugs continues to rise. 90 percent of the survey respondents said drug prices posed a “significant threat” to the affordability of employer-provided health coverage. 

Additional highlights from the survey include:

  • 94% of respondents were in favor of drug price regulation.

  • 79% reported that hospital rate regulation would be very or somewhat helpful. 81% said the same about surprise billing regulation, and 90% said the same about hospital price transparency.

  • The greatest threats to the affordability of employer-provided health coverage for employees and their families were drug prices (90%), lack of transparency (73%), hospital prices (71%), surprise medical bills (58%) and overuse of low-value services or waste (53%). 

Employer-based benefits are the largest source of health insurance in the U.S., with around half of all Americans covered by a plan provided by an employer. 

How does the 2020 election affect health care?

Further government involvement in health care expansion or regulation could persuade employees away from their employer-based plan, which would in turn alleviate the company from having to insure them as much or at all. 

Joe Biden’s “Medicare at 60” proposal aims to lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60. That means employees ages 60-64 would have the option of leaving their employer’s coverage and making the jump to Medicare if their costs and benefits under Medicare are more favorable to them than they are in their employer coverage.

Regulating drug prices would soften the blow for employers whose plans include drug coverage. President Trump recently signed an executive order to spark legislation for a “most favored nations” policy which would regulate drug pricing in the U.S. by using international price competition as a benchmark. He has also pushed to curb surprise billing on behalf of doctors and hospitals. 

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