As the clock slowly ticks down to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the policy platforms of many Democratic Party candidates continue to coalesce, with prominent hopefuls such as Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Gillum opting to embrace democratic socialism.
Both Nixon and Gillum have made “Medicare for All” the centerpiece of their campaigns for governor of New York and Florida respectively. Popularized by Sen. Bernie Sanders during his push to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016, “Medicare for All” has been embraced by many in the party as a silver bullet solution for the problems of America’s health care system.
Barack Obama recently re-entered the political fold with a fiery speech prompting voters to get behind the Democratic Party once more this November. In the speech, Obama put his support behind “Medicare for All,” saying it was among the “good ideas” Democrats were running on this election.
From former White House residents to young upstarts knocking 10 term congressmen out of the race, “Medicare for All” has become central in the Democrats’ public campaign platform heading into November. It is touted as emulating the best of the so-called socialist countries in Scandinavia, Australia and Canada, then implementing those policies in America.
There are only two problems.
First, the countries listed are capitalist countries with some socialist policies like universal health care and the welfare state interwoven into their society, not “socialist countries” as many Democrats often incorrectly state.
Secondly, taking a profoundly broken U.S health care system, making it government funded and slapping a nice red “democratic socialism” sticker on the side does not make a real, sustainable universal health care system.
So how much will “Medicare for All” actually cost?
The cost of “Medicare for All” as told by Democrats ranges from costing $1.4 trillion per year according to Sanders, to “pass it and then figure out how to fund it,” according to Cynthia Nixon.
If “Medicare for All” were enacted federally it would cost the government between $24.7 and $32.6 trillion over 10 years according to a range of different studies.
Kenneth Thorpe, a former Clinton administration health official and a health policy professor at Emory University in Atlanta, authored a study into the potential cost of “Medicare for All.”
According to Thorpe, “it’s going to cost the federal government $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion a year in terms of spending.”
There is a substantial gulf between even the rosiest of the independent data and Sanders’ plan to the tune of at least $1.1 trillion a year, which equates to more than 26 percent of the entire U.S federal budget.
So how do Democrats intend to pay for it?
This is where we run into trouble. Other than mostly vague promises, there isn’t much hard data on how they intend to pay for it that holds up under scrutiny.
Sanders put forward the idea of tax increases — 2.2 percent on personal income taxes, 6.2 percent on employers and additional undisclosed tax increases on the wealthy. Under further examination, Sanders’ plan comes up well short of the total funding cost, even when compared with the best case scenario from the independent data.
Andrew Gillum proposed an increase to Florida’s rate of corporate taxes to fund his version of “Medicare for All,” however any reasonable tax increase wouldn’t even make a meaningful dent in the total cost to the state’s coffers.
Why can’t “Medicare for All” work?
The American health care system is the most expensive in the world per capita by quite a large margin, despite providing extremely poor outcomes for most of its users.
By building “Medicare for All” on top of a broken and expensive system, it will only ensure that the weaknesses of the current system are baked into the new one.
With the taxpayer footing the minimum $2.5 trillion a year additional cost of “Medicare for All,” the budget deficit would explode to its highest non-wartime level ever indexed to GDP, even under the best case scenario based on independent data.
“Medicare for All” as it stands is a completely unsustainable policy that would require massive tax increases to fund. Even if U.S income taxes were doubled, the budget would still need to come up with an additional $170 billion a year in order to fund the policy.
In order for America’s long-suffering health care system to be fixed, it will require much more serious surgery than the government simply choosing to foot the bill for the high cost of health care in the United States.
There will need to be serious reform in the U.S health care sector before anything like a universal health care system can be implemented sustainably. Otherwise, the implementation of a system like “Medicare for All” will be short lived and will ultimately have to be replaced, after the true budgetary impact has been realized.
Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and free speech advocate. He also runs a political and current affairs website at avidcommentator.com.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.