MSNBC Anchor Ali Velshi Explains Universal Health Care, Says It's 'Possible' in U.S.

July 6, 2017

MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi on Wednesday explained how universal health care coverage works in a segment called "For Facts' Sake," adding that such a system is "possible" in the United States.

"Something that people want but is almost certainly not on the table is insurance for everyone, no matter who," Velshi said. "For facts' sake, I take a look at how universal health care is possible, and we're not just talking single payer."

Velshi noted that the U.S. is the only developed country that does not have a universal health care system.

"Fifty-eight countries around the globe have universal health care systems, and 34 of 35 developed countries in the world offer some form of universal coverage," Velshi said. "All of them except for one: the United States."

Velshi described how a universal system would need a mandate requiring all citizens to have health insurance.

"Here's how universal systems work: There's a mandate that every person must have insurance that covers basic health services," he said. "That pools the financial risk of health coverage across the entire population, which brings down costs for all."

Obamacare mandates that every citizen have health insurance through the individual mandate. Enrollees pay premiums and the law penalizes employers and individuals with a tax penalty for not having insurance. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2017 is either 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child who is not covered. A person pays whichever total is higher.

Velshi noted how spending on health care in the United States is higher than in other developed countries.

"On average, spending per person on medical care is 60 percent lower in developed countries with universal systems than it is in the United States," Velshi said.

The MSNBC host went on to say that the American health care system does not provide universal coverage, suggesting that makes the U.S. system too costly for many people to have insurance.

"The insurance is paid for through some combination of premiums and taxes. Those payments help subsidize coverage for the people who can't afford it," Velshi said. "And that's very different from the current American health system where thousands of different parties—some private, some public, and some individual—chip in a bit while millions of people still go without insurance because it's too costly."

Velshi has said on previous shows that a free-market-style health insurance system would not reduce premiums.

Velshi noted that critics of universal health care point to "higher taxes and longer wait times for doctors," but added that "the U.S. can have long wait times, too, more often than not because insurance companies are trying to save money."

The Washington Free Beacon reached out to Velshi to ask how the mandated system he described in his segment differs from the individual mandate under Obamacare. Velshi said Obamacare had a "design flaw" that made the risk pool for insurers become much older and sicker than initially anticipated. He added that Obamacare's penalties were not enough of a disincentive to encourage young and healthy individuals to purchase insurance.

Velshi indicated that universal coverage is preferable, as long as a few conditions are met.

"Coverage of the entire population, however achieved, results in better health outcomes and greater life expectancy at birth. But the common element is that everyone needs to be covered to broaden the risk pool and keep the costs of premiums and health care low," Velshi told the Free Beacon.