New York voters like their insurance and want to keep it
Most people are happy with their health care coverage and don’t want to lose it. That may seem a surprising statement, but it’s a true one. While people often like to complain about our health care system, when asked about their own health care, time and again people say they are happy and don’t want to change.
Here in New York, a new poll shows an overwhelming 91 percent of those surveyed are generally satisfied with their current insurance and want to keep it. Of those, a majority (55 percent) are very satisfied. Moreover, 82 percent of those same people say we should build on and improve our current health insurance system, not start over.
Yet here we are again, with state lawmakers and advocates calling for replacing the current system with a government-run single payer plan – the NY Health Act, which would eliminate all private health insurance and require massive tax increases. Now more than ever, this is a bad idea and most New Yorkers don’t want it.
When they learn that they would lose their current health care plan, nearly two-thirds of voters oppose it. Instead, the majority of voters would rather keep their current coverage than get it through a New York State government run system. In addition to concerns about losing their coverage, New Yorkers also recognize that the NY Health Act could force them to wait longer to get care and prevent them from seeing the doctors of their choice.
Of course, people are also concerned about the cost. Estimates put the starting cost of the NY Health Act at about $310 billion. Funding the new system would require up to $250 billion in new taxes, which would more than double New York State’s current annual spending on health care. These massive tax increases would be devastating to consumers and businesses who are already reeling from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On the other hand, there’s our current system. Over the last decade, through a public-private partnership, New York has done more than almost any other state to expand health care coverage, bolster services for its most vulnerable residents and improve the quality of care. This partnership has been responsible for assuring that patients have access to the care they need — from testing and treatment for COVID-19, to swiftly shifting to and significantly increasing use of telemedicine services, to providing financial flexibility to businesses and consumers to help them maintain coverage. New York’s Essential Plan — an extremely successful program that provides high quality coverage to more than 800,000 low-income individuals and certain immigrants — is another example of the strong public-private partnership the state has taken to expand coverage. These efforts underscore the strength of our current system and the public’s preference that New York should build on it, allowing residents to keep their current coverage rather than requiring they get it through a New York State government run health care system.
Rather than being distracted by calls to start over and replace the current health care system with a government-run program, we should build on what’s working to make health care better, simpler and more affordable for every New Yorker. That’s what people say they want. We all should listen to them.
Lev Ginsburg is Senior Director of Government Affairs at The Business Council.