Medicare For All Explained
The Presidential Debates have started, and once again, the rising costs of health care is a hot topic. You will hear people (like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren among others) talking about “Medicare for All,” “Universal Medicare” and “Universal Health Insurance.” What exactly are they talking about? Let’s dive in, with Medicare for all explained.
What is Medicare?
We need to start off with some definitions. First, what is Medicare? It is the U.S. national health care system in place to cover the health care citizens over the age of 65 and those that are disabled. Hop on over to our “What is Medicare” post to learn the basics of our current system.
So, What Exactly is “Medicare for All”?
Medicare for All is the expansion of our current national Medicare system to include all citizens in the United States. According to PBS, 44 million Americans are uninsured, and 38 million more Americans are under-insured. Meaning, their insurance is not adequate enough to meet their heath care needs. Medicare for all aims to solve this problem by nationalizing health care and offering it to everyone.
Why is it a problem to have under insured or non-insured Americans?
According to PBS, some of the reasons it is problematic to have so many uninsured Americans is
- People who forego preventative care cost the system more later when they get sick.
- People who don’t visit the doctor when they first need to cost the system more later when their illness gets worse.
- Mounting debt for consumers and non-payment of care to hospitals are just two examples of how unpaid Medical bills are a drain on our economy. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the in U.S. is medical debt.
- Moreover, everyone else suffers when insurance premiums go up because of this cycle.
The Pros and Cons of “Medicare For All” Explained
Political opinions often weigh heavily on health care topics. For this discussion, try to think of health are as non-political and consider both the pros and cons of national health care.
The Positive Side
- There is a lot of bloat in our current health care system. Private companies naturally try to make a profit, but the medical industries are known for inflated administrative costs and high executive pay/bonuses. A national system would divert this money away from compensation and into research and development or into lowering consumer costs.
- I know we are staying apolitical, but Bernie Sanders (one of the biggest proponents for Medicare for All) does a good job of laying out our next point: we all have the right to good care. Sanders site says, We would be “joining every other major country on Earth and guaranteeing health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.” The United States ranks far behind other countries in regards to health care, and this could be our chance to catch-up.
- We could lower the cost of prescription drugs if the U.S. was the biggest payer and negotiator. Right now, the U.S. pays way more than other developed countries for certain drugs because of our privatized system. If you have not read about the sad cases related to inflated costs for insulin, that is a good example to start with.
The Negative Side
- On the flip side, one argument against Medicare for All, is that national systems beneficiaries will use medical services more than they need to or should. The government has a “weaker incentive” than private companies to limit overuse since they are not profit driven.
- The government is not as good at detecting and deterring fraud as private companies. This is because private companies spend more money in administrative costs to handle fraud, and the current Medicare program does not have a big enough budget for this.
- Payments to providers would be less. Some of this would be countered by less admin costs. However, a lot of doctors and providers might be dissuaded from offering their services. We certainly can’t afford to loose good practitioners.
It doesn’t seem like a national health care system is in our near future. Even electing a pro “Medicare for All” candidate, it proponents would still have an uphill battle in congress. What is clear is that the current system is very costly and often ineffective in providing the “best” care. Tackling the problem from many different angles including prevention is an intermediary step we can at least continue with.
What are your thoughts on Medicare for all and the current state of our health care system? If you are a beneficiary of our current Medicare program, do you think it can be translated on a national scale?