After the controversial defeat and resignation of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, many in the country were left pining for his self-coined “Democratic Socialist” policies, including a single-payer healthcare system; effectively Medicare for all, the proposed national system was miniaturized and proposed as a people’s amendment to the Colorado State Constitution in the form of Amendment 69, or ColoradoCare as it came to be known. Now, mere days after the election, we can look at the reasons the bill failed abysmally to pass the general vote.
The Wake of ColoradoCare
Uncertainty & Fear
With any radical legislative change comes a firm dose of fear and uncertainty, from both those in direct opposition and the more favorable portion of the population alike. The proposed ColoradoCare would have carried with it incredibly large, industry-displacing changes; not surprisingly, the idea of such a high degree of change frightened many folks and opened up a wide door for the opposition to easily poke a great many holes in the already-unstable boat. Ultimately, beyond any rational reason to so adamantly shoot down the amendment (70% opposition, 30% supporting votes), there was definitely a noteworthy amount of fear and uncertainty.
Another major reason that the amendment failed to pass was the ultimate ambiguity of the proposed ColoradoCare system; to many, it seemed as if the creators of the system expected it to fail, ran out of time to iron out details, or simply cannot predict all of the necessary details that people would need to know to begin to support such a massive change. For example, there was little-to-no definition as to what the governing body presiding over the system would look like, how they would be held in check, or even some form of guarantee that the massive increase in state funding was used appropriately for all.
Known Single-Payer Issues
Compared to the standard health insurance system, as enjoyed by those here in Fort Collins and across the nation currently, a single-payer system would remove much of the free-market pros and cons of our current healthcare system. While, on one hand, healthcare would be (somewhat) guaranteed for all, on the other a clogged, bogged down, and backed-up system could quickly replace it. Anxious fingers pointed at similar governmental healthcare flaws found in nations like Canada and Australia where wait times for major procedures can be many times longer than similar periods here in the US. This, in addition to a host of other care-related problems will prompt many to reject any and all single-payer systems in favor of the health insurance industry.
Business & Payroll Tax
A major flaw pointed out was the way the bill would be paid for: Through a robust, standardized 10% payroll tax to be shared by employers and their employees. While this system would, in theory, eliminate many employers’’ current employer-paid group health insurance plans, the proposed ColoradoCare amount of 6.66 percent would have some nasty consequences, including effectively punishing employers for paying their employees well. Many critics of the bill point to the large startup and small, easily relocated tech industry companies based out of the state, which could easily pack up and move for a lower tax rate. This bill could have encouraged companies to not headquarter or begin in Colorado, which would be in direct opposition to the tremendous economic benefit the state has seen from startups in recent years. Growing, swollen housing markets in many Colorado cities owe that bloat to an exponentially increasing number of jobs, which many believe would be threatened by the hefty employer cost increase.
The Entire Insurance Industry
While ColoradoCare would likely create jobs, those jobs were ambiguous and undefined in nature; which would offer little hope or consultation to the hundreds to thousands of people employed, in some part, by the current insurance industry. While not all insurance companies and professionals would lose their livelihood, health insurance does represent one of the largest employment options in the industry. The fallout from this loss of jobs and revenue for the state may not be made up for by the influx of funds and jobs from the amendment. Unfortunately, this would likely leave many families without an option for employment in the state, causing experienced professionals (such as yours truly) with a tough decision to make: Brave the storm here or seek greener pastures in another state. Luckily for those of us in the industry, this decision did not come to be necessary.
Unfortunately, even according to the system’s creators, there would be some healthcare providers that may be left holding the bag in the system. Since health insurance has the ability to dynamically cover various procedures, specialists, and other patient-specific needs, users are allowed to somewhat cater their coverage to their needs. In a single-payer system, however, this luxury is not nearly as present, leaving many practices and patients without means to continue their current level of care. Especially worrisome would be reimbursement rates for the largest and smallest providers as well as up-and-coming practices. Basically, this system would likely lead to less doctors seeing more patients, which is not something many people would care to explore.
Another reason the bill struggled to gain traction among voters was the colossal 25 billion dollar price tag, which far exceeds the current state budget (not healthcare budget, the entire state budget); this essentially means the state government’s influence in each Coloradan’s life would be doubled, at least from a financial standpoint. Frankly speaking, 25 billion dollars sounds like a tremendous amount of funds on a national scale, for a state-driven measure it is an absolutely gigantic sum. Worse still, there was little way to know that this sum would even cover the costs of healthcare for all, which could lead to unlimited, uncapped increases to the ColoradoCare tax rate. Yikes.
Someday, if it is possible that a nationwide or statewide single-payer system will exist, but ColoradoCare has shown us that the transition will have to be much smoother and has some major hurdles to overcome. In addition to the above issues, people have found many more reasons to reject the proposed system, which leads us to believe that any future implementations are far off.
Individualized Health Insurance Plans
Thanks to the amendment failing to pass, we are still able to confidently offer Fort Collins’ businesses and families alike the best possible plans for their situation. This liberty has never seemed as important as it does after considering these and other shortcomings of a single-payer system, which could still require additional supplementary insurance for many families to carry as a stand-alone cost.
Call us old-fashioned, but we’re excited to still be your trusted local choice for competitive, effective health insurance plans in Fort Collins; contact us today to learn more about the coverage and rates that will best benefit your family.