Question: What is Badgercare?
Answer: Badgercare is Wisconsin’s form of Medicaid. Medicaid is a program jointly run by the federal government and all 50 states. The goal of Medicaid is to offer health insurance to people who traditionally have difficulty getting health insurance coverage: people with disabilities, pregnant women, and children—who largely are unable to work and thus cannot get health insurance on their own from an employer—as well as people in poverty, whose employers do not offer health insurance. Badgercare and similar programs currently cover 16% of people in Wisconsin.
Question: What is Badgercare for All?
Answer: Badgercare for All is a proposal to extend Badgercare to all Wisconsin residents, or to create an improved version of Badgercare that all all Wisconsin residents are enrolled in.
Badgercare is of higher quality than private health insurance because Badgercare beneficiaries have little to no out-of-pocket spending. There is no reason everyone in Wisconsin cannot benefit from this high quality health insurance program.
If everyone in Wisconsin was covered by Badgercare, Wisconsin would have a single-payer health care system, and benefit from the lower costs and higher quality a single-payer system offers.
There have been proposals for a Badgercare for All public option. This is not Badgercare for All because under a Badgercare public option, not everyone would be covered by Badgercare. In a public option, it would be easier for people to enroll in Badgercare, but many people would still be left out of Badgercare.
Question: Why is Badgercare for All preferable to a Badgercare public option?
Answer: Single-payer health care systems are able to provide high quality health care at a lower price than health care systems based on private insurance. A Badgercare public option would not be a single payer system and thus would not be able to deliver the many benefits of a single payer system.
Another concern is that most people do not understand how health insurance works. Many people believe they have good health insurance through their job, only to learn when they get sick that their insurance is not good after all. They find that their insurance does not cover necessary medical care, or imposes unaffordable medical bills. Even if people have the ability to easily opt into Badgercare, many people will not understand why it would be beneficial to do so. While this may sound abstract, the fact is that these decisions will result in unnecessary death, disability, and bankruptcy.
Additionally, opting into Badgercare would require paperwork, and people might only go through the hassle of opting into Badgercare if they become very sick and find that their insurance does not cover needed medical care. Were this to occur, every person with high medical bills in Wisconsin would opt into Badgercare, and with so many sick people and so few healthy people, Badgercare’s costs would be unsustainable. Moreover, moving everyone with high medical bills onto Badgercare would be an enormous boon to private insurance companies, which would rake in extra profits because of a tax payer-funded public program that takes all the most expensive enrollees off of their roles.