In touting their plans to reverse the course of healthcare costs—including various incarnations of Medicare for All—Democratic presidential candidates have spent a good chunk of air time bashing insurance companies.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Detroit, for example, said the basic profit model of an insurance company is to take "as much money as you can in premiums and pay out as little as possible in healthcare coverage."
But data on the five largest companies in each sector by revenue show pharmaceutical company profits are leagues above their health insurer and hospital peers, both on the for-profit and not-for-profit side.
The top five drugmakers saw a cumulative profit margin of 19.4% in 2018. For health insurers, that was 4.3%. The profit margin across the largest investor-owned health systems was 6% and 3% across the largest not-for-profit health systems.