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Sen. Bernie Sanders on the health-care industry

“Tonight in America as we speak, 87 million Americans uninsured or underinsured but the health-care industry made $100 billion in profits last year.”

–Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

In the first part of his statement, Sanders is quoting from a 2019 report from the Commonwealth Fund. The report said that the number of people who are uninsured – 24 million — had declined since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but that more people are “underinsured.” That’s the phrase that refers to out-of-pocket costs that exceed 10 percent of income (or 5 percent of income if low-income, as well as deductible that were more than 5 percent of income. The phrase also covers people who may have had a gap in insurance coverage. The report said that 43.8 million people had insurance but were underinsured, while 19.3 million people had a coverage gap.

As for the claim that the “health-care industry” made $100 billion profits, the Sanders campaign provided a list of profits in 2018 for drug companies, which totaled $101 billion. The health insurance industry was not nearly as profitable, according to a March report by AM Best. Profits rose 19 percent to nearly $26 billion through the third quarter of 2018, compared to the same prior-year period. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners pegged the profits at $23.4 billion in 2018.

Fact-checking the second Democratic debate
Democratic 2020 presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pose together before the start of the second night of the second 2020 presidential Democratic candidates debate in Detroit, Wednesday. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Twenty candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination are again taking the stage — 19 who were on the stage during last month’s debate and one, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who was seen by debate-watchers for the first time Tuesday. The debate, hosted by CNN, began airing at 8 p.m. Eastern; the Fact Checker is writing on the candidates’ claims here.

Here’s what the Fact Checker found during the first debate.