It was asked by the moderator Lester Holt at the first Democratic debate that who here would put an end to their private health insurance in the favor of a government-run plan. Just a raising of hands to start off with.
The next night the same question was asked by him. A lot of people watching at home have their own health insurance through their employer. Who here would end their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?
There were two issues with this question. The first one is that it is vague and unclear; was Holt asking about the own health care plans of candidates, or their plans for the country?
The second was the bigger issue that the question is ridiculous. There is exactly one rhetorical response to whether you would abolish private insurance, and it either yes or no. It’s not showing or not showing your hand. It is: ‘It depends.’ There are a lot of questions that need to be answered first before you can even make sense of it.
Almost all of the health coverage goals of the Democrats could be achieved with or without private insurance. The difficult questions, the one which will define any plan they eventually want to pass are about what we covered, how expenses are controlled, and how the plan is funded. How you should answer the private insurance question depends on how you answer those questions.
Just the like the other Democrats’ health care debate¸ Holt’s question, is framed by Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan. Putting an end to the private insurance is the most controversial, disliked stand Sanders’s plan takes, which has made it appealing for reporters looking to spark a battle among the Democrats. However, Sanders’s proposal makes some doubtful promises and has acute blunders, and until you work through those, arguing about private insurance is a red herring.