Benjamin Franklin wearing mask on U.S. currency Washington’s public option was designed to save consumers money primarily by lowering what hospitals and doctors get paid, capping aggregate payments at 160% of what Medicare would pay. (Photo: Shutterstock)

With prospects dim for the U.S. to adopt a single-payer “Medicare for All” program, health care reform advocates turned instead to an insurance plan designed by the government that could compete with private insurance plans sold on the health care exchanges. The idea behind this “public option” is that it could ultimately expand health care access by making a lower-cost plan available to consumers.

But that public-option plan, though backed by Presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama, also has gone nowhere because of political opposition in Congress.

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