Home | About | Donate

'No, No I Do Not': Kamala Harris Clarifies She Does Not Support Abolishing Private Insurance

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/06/28/no-no-i-do-not-kamala-harris-clarifies-she-does-not-support-abolishing-private

This tells me that Harris is short-sighted, has not fully analyzed M4A, and/or is bowing to the insurance industry lobby, and/or in spite of her “willingness to take a stand” is not willing to stand and deliver on what M4A means, how it works. I cannot find one example of private insurance that is better than the M4A structure. If someone can, as an empiricist, I’m willing to have my conclusions changed – and to offer those improvements to the M4A proponents as amendments. I worked in public sector health systems my entire career. Insurance billing is a nightmare. Having a single payor with a single rule book would eliminate a massive internal cost for all providers, as well as the external, direct costs of the insurance industry itself.


Totally agree with you. Medicare for all or Universal Health Care will NOT work if there is “supplemental” private insurance! That will be like saying, ok, the poor and the really sick can have Medicare for All, but the elites will have their boutique healthcare. Also, that will drain the monies for that high cost boutique insurance, that should be going into the Medicare for All system.


The question about a “government-run” plan is a poison pill. Ideally, the plan would be run by the individual patient and her doctor, and PAID for by government out of general revenues. One of the many cost-saving benefits of M4A would be to reduce to one the number of claim forms—a huge, and totally unnecessary, driver of overhead expense at both the provider and payor ends.


You don’t understand. Supples don’t replace Medicare for All, they are in addition to it for what it doesn’t cover.

So if someone wanted to get a Supple for say, getting their teeth whitened if they ever need to do so, they’d still pay into Medicare for All with a payroll tax and still have all their medically necessary needs covered with no additional premiums, co-pays, or deductibles.

I despise Harris. I doubt she really is for Medicare for All.

I say this because Tulsi didn’t do the hyperbole that Sanders did, but was honest that these supples are not outlawed by Bernie’s plan or Jayapal’s or the previous HR676 that she has co-sponsored for years, long before Bernie ran in 2016 and then others started imitating him. She’s the real deal, like Sanders, on supporting Medicare for All.

The reality is the Medicare for All doesn’t even outlaw regular insurance, if someone wants to buy it when they are already paying for Medicare for All that meets all their medical needs, that includes every single doctor, clinic, and hospital in its network, if they want to buy a for profit plan that is not as good, the bills don’t forbid it. But who in the world would?

Private for profit health insurance that covers medically necessary stuff doesn’t need to be outlawed- it will fade away as it becomes totally unnecessary and obsolete.

But if they can sell insurance for botox and teeth whitening and hair transplants and people are stupid enough to buy it (when such stuff is what the rich do already who can just afford it), then it will be legal.

I think you have that wrong, Medicare covers all medically necessary services (ever use Medicare) and prohibits private insurance for competing with a duplication of service. It also excludes private hospitals from the plan, they have to convert to non-profit (similar to Kaiser which is 2/3 non-profit) It controls premiums, co-pays and deductibles as per the decisions of a newly established board appointed by the President. It doesn’t guarantee coverage, and if it considers any care unnecessary guess who pays for it? And it is not everyone in, there are exclusions that need fixing before anything is passed.

You are confusing current Medicare with improved Medicare for All.

1 Like

I don’t think so, I was referencing the bill. Did you disagree with something I wrote?

I understand all of the confusion… the bill is still in its infancy. Everyone seems afraid to go to a total Universal Health Care. Perhaps everyone is still trying to placate the private insurance industry?

Supplementals are now needed on Medicare because Medicare doesn’t pay for everything. This is a fault of the current Medicare. A Universal Health Care would have ZERO exclusions…except of course for vanity surgeries like breast implants and face lifts and whatever men do to improve their looks and prolong youth. The plan I currently have is a medicare advantage plan (like an HMO) which excludes many things and still makes me pay for part of hospitalization. With a Universal Plan, nothing would need to be paid for out of pocket. But we ALL must contribute to the plan through our paychecks or taxes or whatever…and the feds could match all that by cutting Pentagon by even a measly 2%!!! But if too many for profit insurance plans continue…all the sick people will be shoved off onto the Medicare plans and Medicare will go broke…especially if the private sector doesn’t pay their fair share. Without the private insurance sector, no worry! They won’t get funds anyway! They can go sell what fern says. :o)


Ok, I see where my post creates confusion, M4A shares the condition of medical necessity with the current system but everything else includes or is limited to M4A. The bill also defunds Medicaid, public health and a list of other providers but does not mention anything that is excluded by prohibition of federal funding. That would be important.

I meant this for LibWingofLibWing

That question coming from the corporate servicing Holt is apparently the talking point that we will hear over and over and over and over and over again.

Many of the Democratic candidates have already been repeating this. AS IF most US citizens are just in love with their private insurance through their employer or otherwise. AS IF they are in love with being saddled with monthly premiums they can barely afford to begin with and premiums that millions pay who then can’t afford to actually use their “healthcare insurance” because of high deductibles. Those premiums that have consistently gone up year over year for decades now far outpacing any rate of inflation…and even AT the rate of inflation such a system still clucking sucks.

This is just such insidious propaganda. The idea catapulted here of course, is that the lives of US citizens being taxed to death (sometimes literally) by an insidious “healthcare” monopoly wouldn’t have immediate relief in a myriad of ways by an imperfect system of Medicare for All that would be MUCH less money per year out of pocket (taxes imposed) compared with the total of premiums over the year. AND the freedom of not being stuck with a job you hate because you are afraid of losing your fucking insurance.

To all that further this propaganda, this talking point…go cluck yourself.

Glad that Harris has come out for Medicare for All. The fact that supplemental private insurance would still exist is not anything new. Medicare has been that way for a very long time now.

Is Medicare for All perfect? As good as a truly universal Single Payer? Well of course not.

Would it be a huge game changer for millions, including myself? Yes. Especially if the proposal also covers dental care which is a healthcare crisis that exists that is hardly ever mentioned. $2000 bucks to save a single tooth is ___________ I don’t have the words, frankly.


Aye that. As was the gotcha framing of the question. Even in Canada, where I’m still in cancer treatment, there is a role for private, employer-sponsored insurance, in providing benefits that include lost wage payments and “survivor” benefits.
But coverage of actual health care costs are strictly through the social, single-payer system. (And, as you note, my health-care “plan” is determined by me and my oncologists/GP — NOT the government).

On the one hand, I could give Harris a pass for being tripped up by a tripwire question. On the other hand, it was asked the same way one night earlier (when DeBlasio and Warren were the only two to raise their hands), so Harris certainly would have seen it coming. In that light, her quick agreement and subsequent walk-back appear cynical.

1 Like

The “debate questions” like this one about “abolishing private insurance” are highly fallacious examples of corporate propaganda designed to pressure the candidates and brainwash the public into supporting the current for-criminal profit “health care” system. The question that should have been asked was “What is your stance on expanding Medicare to cover all person residing in the US?” This is why I despise the corporate press.

1 Like

if they want to buy a for profit plan that is not as good, the bills don’t forbid it. But who in the world would?

…Anyone who buys a Medicare Advantage plan.


I’m in “traditional” Medicare (NOT an Advantage plan) and I have to have a supplemental to not pay for anything out of pocket. Costs me and my wife around $5,500 per year. Sanders plan would have NO co-pays and NO deductibles. The phony “advantage” plans allow private insurance into the Medicare field with the government actually subsidizing these plans so they are either “free” or have a minimal monthly premium. There are some countries that have “universal” coverage with either all private companies (although heavily regulated) like Switzerland or Germany that have both public & private mix again heavily regulated.

1 Like

Medicare “advantage” plans are a fucking scam that have many seniors bullshited into these plans. All it is, is a backdoor way for private insurers into traditional Medicare. By the way, supported by MANY Dem politicians.

1 Like

not all breast “enhancements” are done for vanity’s sake.
some are medically necessary…especially breast reductions.


No private company can offer a coverage for the same benefits and this is spelled out in H.R. 1384. This is there I believe specifially to prevent any doctors and insurance companies from setting up a siloed alternative systmem:

SEC. 107. Prohibition against duplicating coverage.

(a) In general.—Beginning on the effective date described in section 106(a), it shall be unlawful for—

(1) a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act; or

(2) an employer to provide benefits for an employee, former employee, or the dependents of an employee or former employee that duplicate the benefits provided under this Act.

(b) Construction.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the sale of health insurance coverage for any additional benefits not covered by this Act, including additional benefits that an employer may provide to employees or their dependents, or to former employees or their dependents.

Do you have any information to show that anybody ever does this? Who gets insurance for only cosmetic purposes like this? Is it ever more cost effective than self insuring (just pay the bill when you need it). It seems like everyone buying into such a policy would only do so if they planned on using it and in which case the insurance feature is missing and is just overhead to make the costs even more.

The only significant role for private insurance I could possibly see is the boutique role - to the extent that it is allowed. E.g. I don’t have a current objection to covering deluxe private hospital rooms and I could imagine some rich people wanting to make sure they don’t have to spend a night next to a homeless person, but I don’t know the data on these types of plans either.

I agree with @dpearl on the fact that no one in the media is referring to insurance for cosmetic procedures or for my example about private rooms when they are asking about abolishing (yes they should use different phrasing) private insurance. Candidates like Gabbard really shouldn’t have any issue answering the question as it is intended. I don’t think she really is commited to the depth of public coverage in H.R. 1384 and thinks some European solution that utilizes private insurance companies is still something totally open to her. If we get stuck with something like that but it is still much better than the ACA and mess we have now, that is still an improvement - but one can add the caveat at the end that this is where we may end up while still stating strong support for fighting at first for M4A as most knowledgeable people understand it.

If it were allowed for rich people to have their own system and not pay taxes for the other system that would absolutely break everything as you say. This is the stupidity of Medicare for All Who Want It (Buttigieg) or Medicare for America.

I don’t understand these comments I always see on CD. H.R. 1384 which is the House M4A bill is absolutely truly universal Single Payer. I’m pretty sure the Senate bill is also but it has a longer transition period and probably some other differences I am not yet aware of. But why are you critiquing H.R. 1384 this way? What is your specific objection?

I agree totally. I’m happy to have her tear down Biden but I’m not looking forward to Harris (my senator) being the nominee or being tapped for VP. I’d take Warren over Harris easily and I’ve got plenty of issues with Warren too.

1 Like

Medicare Advantage plans are for current Medicare. We’re talking Improved Medicare for All that doesn’t need another plan to cover the full cost. MFA will always cover the full the cost.

Also, here, I’ll admit I was wrong on the MFA plans forbidding plans that would compete. It does. But it also doesn’t forbid all plans for things it doesn’t cover.

I’ve been talking about cosmetic because that’s about all MFA doesn’t cover- plus it does seem silly to me to buy insurance for something like that you’d know you’d want and can just plan on it. Also why would anyone sell plans like that when all your customers would be people knowing they’re getting it and so you don’t have a large base of folk paying in who you don’t have to pay out to?

So I don’t know what the deal is on this.

I still think Tulsi knows that there will still be allowed these plans and is too honest to say something different.

I wish she’s shout out, “That’s an unfair gotcha question and I won’t answer it unless you allow each of us to explain in depth our positions.”

I don’t see why we let these million dollar corporate whores like Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and Lester Hold be the gate keepers in framing what the debate it.

I still think a free wheeling debate without a moderator and the candidates dealing with each other is best. Of course ten in a debate is too many. So maybe five and just more rounds?

1 Like