On Medicare For All

Now that the Green New Deal has been placed on the back burner, so to speak, the Big Issue on the Left is getting Medicare for All (MfA). This would be a complete overhaul of one of the larger sectors of the national economy (health care spending is about 18% of the GDP).

I am in favor of some sort of national health care plan (just as I am in favor of much of the Green New Deal). But as someone who will hopefully be living through the transition period, I’d like to know what I’ll be getting into.

While any sane person has to agree that making sure every American has equal access to health care, regardless of their income or financial situation, the people pushing MfA seem to be letting some serious questions about it slide. Maybe they don’t want to answer them; maybe they haven’t even thought about them enough.

So of course I’m going to ask them.

What’s the plan to pay for it?

Cost estimates vary widely. $30 trillion over ten years is one I’ve come across. That huge number includes money shifting from private plans to MfA, so it’s not like people are going to be taxed more….unless they don’t already have health insurance. Or they get it through their employer – and any deductions for the premiums don’t show up in their paychecks….which could lead to an interesting surprise. And what’s the guarantee that MfA will actually be cheaper when it takes effect than any private plan?

Why are we only hearing about Medicare? What about other systems?

You’ll hear that pretty much every other ‘first world’ country has some sort of official health care programs. What you don’t often hear is that there are a number of different variations being used. There’s the “Beveridge Model” used in Scandinavian countries; Great Britain has their National Health Service; Canada and Taiwan have their own versions….. Why aren’t we hearing anything about those?

Will MfA cover just the basics, or will it cover everything including dental and vision? If there are more than one possible and valid treatments for a medical condition, will they all be covered, or just the cheapest? Someone really needs to do an illustrated explainer of how it’s supposed to work.

What about Obamacare?

There’s one thing that’s been nagging me during all of this MfA blather. Isn’t calling for MfA tantamount to admitting that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (to give it the proper name) is a failure – even when you don’t include the Republican’s attempts at sabotaging it?

Instead of pushing something new that means the government takeover of a large section of the economy and the largest expansion of government reach and influence and control since Medicare itself was created, why not go all out for fixing and strengthening something that already exists, and people are happy with?

At some point, the legislation for Medicare for All is going to have to be written – and these questions are definitely going to come up. Why not forestall them by providing answers now?

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