Medicare X: the Democrats’ supercharged public option plan, explained

Updated by Sarah Kliff

Senate Democrats are increasingly divided over how far the government ought to go to expand health coverage.

At one end of the spectrum is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has offered an idea to end employer-sponsored coverage and move all Americans to a government-run plan.

At the other are Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), who last week proposed a plan called Medicare X. Bennet and Kaine say their goal is similar to Sanders’s: expand coverage to all Americans. But they favor a plan that leaves intact existing sources of health insurance and adds in a new option.

The Sanders plan would equalize insurance for everyone in America — a seismic shift in how Americans are used to getting health care. The changes would be drastic to the system. The Bennet-Kaine plan would feel more familiar, leaving consumers with choices while giving everyone access to a government plan.

Medicare X would allow all Americans to buy a public health insurance plan. That plan would pay doctors the same prices that Medicare currently does, and it would allow patients to be seen at the offices and hospitals that Medicare has in network. Read more…