Last fall, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Medicare For All Act (S.1804) that would provide universal health care for Americans through the expansion of Medicare.
Sanders said the bill was the start of a “long and difficult struggle to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all its people.”
“At a time when millions of Americans do not have access to affordable health care, the Republicans, funded by the Koch brothers, are trying to take away health care from up to 32 million more. We have a better idea: guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All, single-payer health care program,” he added.
There are fifteen current U.S. Senators listed as co-sponsors, they are: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Kamala Harris (D-California), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).
How much will this idea of Senator Sanders cost?
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a center-right think tank that promotes free markets, released a report that shows it will add $32.6 Trillion to the federal government’s budget obligations in its first 10 years of implementation (2022-2031). Charles Blahous, the author of this report, says that this is a conservative figure.
He also states that this bill would produce “an unprecedented strain on the federal budget.” In fact, by comparison, the Medicare For All Act makes spending on Obamacare look frugal.
“This projected increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022. This amount would rise to nearly 12.7 percent of GDP in 2031 and continue to rise thereafter,” he writes.
Blahous provides four primary reasons why Medicare For All will cost so much:
- The federal government would become responsible for financing nearly all current national health spending, including individual private insurance and state spending.
- Medicare For All would increase federal health spending on the currently uninsured as well as those who now carry insurance by providing first-dollar coverage of their health care expenditures across the board, without deductibles or copayments.
- Sanders’ bill would expand the range of services covered by federal insurance (for example, dental, vision, and hearing benefits).
- Medicare For All would dramatically expand the demand for healthcare services, consistent with economics research findings that the more of an individual’s health costs are covered by insurance, the more services they tend to buy, irrespective of the services’ efficacy and value.
Blahous says we can’t know how much Medicare For All would disrupt the availability and quality of healthcare in the United States.
“M4A would markedly increase the demand for healthcare services while simultaneously cutting payments to providers by more than 40 percent, reducing payments to levels that are lower on average than providers’ current costs of providing care. It cannot be known how much providers will react to these losses by reducing the availability of existing health services, the quality of such services, or both,” Blahous wrote.
Read the report below: