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Study Claims Medicare for All would Cost $32 Trillion, but Candidates Won’t Discuss It

2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker speaking on Medicare for All, September 2017. (Photo: Senate Democrats)
2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker speaking on Medicare for All, September 2017. (Photo: Senate Democrats)
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Switching 150M Americans From Private Insurance is Unworkable

Leading Democratic candidates are committed to Medicare for All, a fact that was reiterated in the latest democratic debates. Another term used for Medicare for All is single-payer health care. This means that the government finances health care for the whole population and assumes all health care risks, meaning no other insurers are part of the system.

The Democratic candidates have assured American citizens that Medicare for All will save them money, but many financial experts see it as having the opposite effect with a recent study by the Mercatus Center putting the cost at a staggering $32,000,000,000,000 over ten years. Dr. Stephen Shapiro, medical doctor and Chairman of the Nuzuna Zone Fitness board, believes it would not only bankrupt the U.S. but that it isn’t workable. (Editor’s note, for a detailed breakdown of the study, read Politifact’s report on the Mercatus Center study. The study which makes a range of financial forecasts ranging from Medicare for All saving taxpayers $2 trillion over ten years to costing taxpayers over $3 trillion in the same time period).

Beyond the Stump Speeches: Enormous Costs

Medicare for All at the Democratic Debates

Bernie and other candidates declare their commitment to Medicare for All

Around 150 million Americans would lose private insurance under the scheme and the government takeover of health care would cost an enormous amount. Imposing taxes to raise revenue means the middle class will suffer most. They will to have to pay more in taxes than they will benefit from health care.

Many Americans are currently covered by private health insurance and this would be done away with under Medicare for All.  They are likely to end up paying more than they pay at present for contributions to health care insurance provided by their employers.

Service Delivery Issues

If other countries where health care is government-run are anything to go by, service delivery is an issue. In the U.K and Canada, people often have to wait months to see specialists and hospitals tend to be overcrowded.

Bureaucratic red tape and inefficiency tend to take its toll on access to care and eventually affects the quality of care as doctors are no longer attracted to the profession due to heavy caseloads and less pay. Current Medicare and Medicaid services in the U.S. already have service delivery problems, exacerbated by the pre-approval necessary for tests and procedures and method of payment.

New Technology

Advances in medical technology are transforming the field and many of the new innovations come from medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. Under Medicare for All, less incentive to innovate in the medical field will hurt health care innovation worldwide.

Medicare for All may sound like a good idea to those looking for solutions, but in practice, it will have huge negative, unintended consequences in terms of costs, service delivery and quality of care.

Charles Laverty

Charles Laverty is CEO of Nuzuna Zone Fitness in Costa Mesa in California. Charles has served as CEO or on the board of several healthcare and fitness releated companies over the last few decades including InfusionCare and Curaflex. He is also an active commentator on healthcare public policy and business and political topics.

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