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There has been a lot of talk about a push by some of the presidential candidates to move toward a “Medicare for All” health care plan. Many of the Democratic candidates back a version of the proposal put forth by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Other are supporting less-sweeping alternatives. Let’s look at how Sen. Sanders’ proposal and others might affect employer-sponsored health insurance and health care in the United States.

As proposed, Sen. Sanders’ plan would create a government-run system to provide health insurance for all Americans. His latest proposal goes beyond a prior bill he introduced to establish a single-payer system and would cover essential health treatments with no premiums or deductibles. It would also include long-term care for people with disabilities and coverage for dental and vision. Sanders has 14 co-sponsors for his bill, including fellow senators and Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker (MA), Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), although Sen. Harris has recently announced her own plan as well.

Sen. Sanders’ proposal would eliminate existing public health programs – and private health insurance in the U.S. after a four-year transition period. Insurers could offer supplemental plans to cover items not included under Medicare coverage, such as cosmetic surgery. Some current programs operated under federal authority, like the Veterans Health Administration and Indian Health Services, would be maintained.

While Senator Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have voiced full support for a single-payer system, many of the other Democratic candidates have proposed alternative plans for health care. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) says she favors a “public option” that builds on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health measure signed into law in 2010 during President Barack Obama’s first term. Former Vice President Joe Biden also supports broadening the ACA, in contrast to moving toward a Medicare for all system. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports a hybrid proposal, “Medicare for All who want it.”

Although not a candidate for president, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is advocating a more modest Medicare for All proposal. Her House of Representatives bill, with 112 Democratic co-sponsors, expands access to Medicare and Medicaid without actually ending private health insurance in the way the Sanders bill does. 

The Potential Costs

A 2018 study by RAND Corporation, an American nonprofit global policy think tank, estimated Medicare for All would dramatically increase federal spending on health care – bumping it up from $1.09 trillion annually to $3.5 trillion under a single-payer plan. Insurance and health care industry groups have joined forces to form an umbrella group, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, to oppose Medicare for All. The group says that since private insurers typically pay more than Medicare does, a move to reduced provider payments under a single-payer system could negatively affect care and reduce the number of available doctors and specialists.

Loss of Employer Coverage

Employer-sponsored health insurance could go away if Medicare for All or another proposal is adopted in the future. Of course, it all depends on who wins the races for the White House, Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives. Since some candidates favor a mix of public and private insurance, it is a waiting game at this point.

Private insurance potentially could shift to supplemental-only coverage, something that works in several countries with universal health coverage. For example, in the United Kingdom, the number of people buying private medical insurance has risen significantly in the past decade. Canadians can also buy private insurance to pay costs not covered by the country’s public health plan.

Even if a Medicare for All proposal did pass the Congress and was signed into law by a newly elected president, a transition period would likely need to be negotiated, since about 155 million people in America receive their health coverage through their employer. Right now, the majority of those with coverage through their jobs say they are satisfied with their plans. They could be unhappy if they’re required to give it up to move to a government-sponsored health program.

Stay Tuned

Health care is an important issue – for employers and employees. We will continue to follow what’s happening in the health insurance industry and on the political front, and will share updates. You can also talk with your employee benefits agent about proposals to change the way Americans get their health care. If you don’t already have a health insurance agent, you can search for one here.

Unless you’re an insurance industry veteran or a health insurance agent, you might be wondering, What exactly is a defined contribution employee benefit plan?! More than just a mouthful to say, a defined contribution employee benefit plan allows companies to offer employees a full spectrum of insurance coverage that includes health , dental, vision, life, chiropractic and in some cases even more benefit options.

The defined contribution aspect of the plan gives business owners and managers the ability to choose how much they contribute toward the costs of their employees’ coverage. Groups typically like defined contribution because they can choose a fixed dollar amount or a fixed percentage (like 50%) of the cost for the lowest-priced plan. Plus, the amount they contribute is tax deductible for their business.

In order to help groups select the right defined contribution plan we created a guide ( available for download below) that includes some helpful tips to consider when searching for an employee benefit plan. The guide highlights some key factors to consider when plan shopping, including:

Download your copy today!

If you’re a small business owner, spending time building your company brand may not be at the top of your priority list. In reality, though, businesses of every size need to think about how they can brand themselves to gain an edge in today’s competitive market.

Brand Building Tips

1. Determine Your Voice

The first step in creating your brand is selecting your voice. Think about who you are as a company and what you are known for. If you were meeting someone for the first time, how would you describe what your organization does?

If you already have a mission statement and core values, you’re off to a good start. If not, it may take a little more thought, but it’s well worth the effort. Your approach – and how you “sound” – play an important role in your branding.

You want to be able to develop a tone and message that will help create a connection with your prospects and customers, while also helping differentiate you in your local market and business space.

2. Add Some Visual Flair

If you are just starting your business, and you don’t already have a name and logo, you may want to engage help in selecting one or both. You can talk with friends or other small business owners about their recommendations or look online for a naming or logo design resource.

A good name and visual identity are important to creating a strong brand. Think about the logos of the organizations you know, locally, regionally, and nationally. Some organizations, like McDonalds or Nike, can be identified by a logo alone.

3. Go Your Own Way

You may be tempted to borrow from what you think is working for a competitor, or a large, regional or national brand. Don’t do it. Think about what makes your organization different, and why a prospect should choose your company over another. Your independence may be a differentiator that helps you attract and retain customers.

4. Consistency Is Key

Some businesses – large and small – make a mistake in branding and use a different approach depending on who they are communicating with and what vehicle they’re using (say, for example, an ad versus social media). That can undermine your efforts, because your prospects and customers can be confused by your mixed messages. It’s more effective to be consistent in your approach. Familiarity is important, and it can help you build trust.

5. Deliver on Your Promise

You can create long-term relationships with your prospects – and turn more of them into customers – by delivering on your promises. Be clear about what you do, and what your customers can expect from you. Then make sure you work to follow through. You can earn their trust and generate positive word of mouth. Customer service is vital.

It can be helpful to learn from others’ brand-building missteps. Click here to read Five Branding Mistakes That Could Put Your Small Business Out of Business, published by Crowdspring, or check out this article, You May Be a Small Business, But You Can Still Focus on Building a Big Brand Image!, from Espresso.