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Dependable Coverage, Public Option, State Efforts

United States of Care Releases “Public Option Study Bills: A Key Step in the Policy Process”

Published On January 30, 2023

A public health insurance option (referred to as a “public option”) is a government-run health insurance plan that competes alongside privately-run insurance plans to expand health care coverage and address increasing costs in the insurance market. 

Exploratory legislation can study the feasibility of a public option by assessing a state’s unique health coverage needs, identifying essential considerations for policy design and implementation, and describing a public option’s impact on people and markets. Addressing health equity at all points of the process is crucial to the successful implementation of a public option. Prior to passing public option legislation, states like Colorado, Nevada, and Washington first passed study bills to examine the considerations of doing so.

In USofCare’s memo, “Public Option Study Bills: A Key Step in the Policy Process,” we have included examples and similar approaches to public options, such as Medicaid buy-in programs, or a combination of interventions to improve affordable coverage to have a resource that is inclusive of efforts with similar goals of providing people with new, low-cost coverage options.

As a resource for interested parties and state leaders considering new and innovative ways to provide comprehensive, affordable health insurance options for people, United States of Care (USofCare) has outlined six crucial components of a public option study bill. While this memo focuses on what makes a successful public option study bill, this memo also highlights examples from public option implementation bills that USofCare believes should be included within study bills, to ease the passage of public option bills and implementation upon completion of a study. We hope the below memo provides a solid jumping-off point for leaders considering a study bill. 

Please contact Liz Hagan, Director of Policy Solutions, at [email protected] or Caitlin Westerson, State External Affairs and Partnerships Director, at [email protected] with any questions.