Pete Buttigieg on Health Care: Does He Support Medicare for All?

pete buttigieg

Getty Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on June 22, 2019.

Pete Buttigieg supports Medicare for All but prefers a more gradual pathway to achieve that goal in order to prevent a shock to the economy, he explains on his campaign website.

Buttigieg describes his health care plan as “Medicare for All Who Want It.” The idea is to allow anyone to enroll in Medicare plans on the public exchange.

But he would not touch the private insurance industry. People who already have health insurance through their jobs can stay on their employers’ plans if they choose. But they’d also have the option of buying into the public exchange as well.

During the third Democratic debate on September 12, 2019, in Houston, Buttigieg defended his health care ideas. He stated that he “trusts the American people to make the best choice for them.” He questioned Senator Bernie Sanders, “Why don’t you?”

Here’s what you need to know.


Pete Buttigieg Says the Competition Between Medicare & Private Insurance Companies Would Gradually Lead to Medicare for All

Pete Buttigieg has explained on the campaign trail and on his website that his plan for health care is to essentially put public and private options in direct competition with each other.

Under the current system, people can only enroll in Affordable Care Act plans if they do not have access to health care benefits through an employer.

Buttigieg wants to open it up so that anyone can enroll in a Medicare-based plan, regardless of employment status, and including undocumented immigrants. He does not call for getting rid of private insurance. Instead, people would have the opportunity to choose which plan, private or public, better suits their needs and budget.

The Buttigieg campaign website explains: “Pete supports achieving Medicare for All through a pathway that helps improve people’s lives along the way while allowing the economy to adjust. He calls this ‘Medicare for All Who Want It.’ This plan makes a Medicare-type public option available on the exchange and invites people to buy into it: if corporate insurers don’t lower costs to deliver something dramatically better than what is available today, competition will create the glide path toward Medicare for All.”


Buttigieg: A ‘Medicare for All Who Want It’ Policy Would ‘Dare the Corporate World to Come Up With a Better Solution’

The idea of a Medicare for All system is a common one among the Democratic field of presidential candidates for 2020. Pete Buttigieg is among the candidates that support a version of a single-payer system. He has also proposed the notion that a buy-in Medicare option could help to lower costs in the private sector as well.

He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in February of 2019: “To me, the pathway is a public option. You might call it ‘Medicare for All Who Want It.’ You take a version of Medicare, you let anybody who wants to buy into it, buy into it. And then if people like me are right, that that’s going to be a preferred option, that very naturally becomes a kind of glide path toward a Medicare for All environment. But it also dares the corporate world to come up with a better solution than what they’ve done so far.”