How universal health care could impact your wallet

Posted at 4:39 AM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 10:32:53-04

Californians are one step closer to universal health care after a proposed bill to provide health insurance to all residents in the state passed the Senate.

Senate Bill 562, which now moves on to the Assembly, would cover 40 million Californians, eliminating copays, deductibles and premiums.

A big question that remains is how the state would pay for such a program. Now, a new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst aims to answer it.

The study suggests raising the California's sales tax by 2.3 percent, taxing business gross receipts 2.3 percent, and using existing state and federal health care funds. It also estimates the cost of health care would decrease under the program, meaning the state would need $331 billion each year to run the program.

Brandy Wicklin, a San Diego mother of three, said she thinks it's worth the price.

"I would rather pay a higher sales tax and help other people than not have one," she said.

There are others who aren't so enthusiastic.

The California Association of Health Plans says the UMass study is overly optimistic. It would lead to higher cost and, ultimately, job loss.

"Those numbers are nowhere close to the truth of the real cost," said Craig Gussin, the group's local spokesman.

National Nurses United, which supports the bill, commissioned the study. It suggests giving tax credits or exemptions to small businesses and low-income earners.