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Public Option

State-Level Public Option Proposals: A Look Across States

Published On May 11, 2021

By: Erin Huppert, Grant Rigney, Liz Hagan

Many small businesses and individuals experience significant difficulties obtaining adequate insurance coverage for their needs. Recognizing that, states are now turning to public health insurance options to provide coverage that is affordable, equitable, and accessible. 

Public option plans are an improvement to the health care system that lower costs and make quality health care more accessible by adding more competition for the health care industry. A public health insurance option, often called a “public option,” is a government-regulated insurance plan that is often privately-run. It can be made available to individuals, small businesses, or other entities, like nonprofit organizations, and can be chosen as an alternative to a traditional private insurance plan, typically at a lower cost. 

States across the nation are actively considering or implementing public options. This memo provides an overview of public option policies being debated or implemented in several states (listed alphabetically below).