(By Saad Imran)
‘Medicare-for-all’ has been a prevalent term since the U.S. Elections in November last year. It was widely discussed after Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, unveiled his healthcare plan to the public.
What is Medicare-for-all?
Medicare-for-all refers to a single-payer healthcare system in which healthcare costs are covered by a single-payer. This means that the healthcare expenses of everyone will be paid through federal taxes, and health coverage will be extended to every American.
After the elections were done and Joe Biden was elected as the 46th U.S. President, the implementation of Medicare-for-all became quite controversial. Both sides contributed to the discourse with opposing points.
Regardless of the side you support, the fact is that the U.S. healthcare system is struggling during the ongoing pandemic. The fragility of the healthcare system during the pandemic and the increase in unemployment rates across the country has caused Americans significant mental fatigue and stress.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayyed and Dr. Micah Johnson, authors of the book ‘Medicare for all: A Citizen’s Guide’, go as far as to say that if Medicare-for-all had been implemented, the coronavirus response of the US could have been much better.
The Arguments For Medicare-for-All
For the people who support Medicare-for-all, the full implementation of the program will be a dream come true and solve a lot of health-related problems of the average American.
At present, the American healthcare system is riddled with complexities. Since there are multiple payers, the system is full of bureaucratic hurdles and confusion.
Each payer operates under its own rules. Most of the private health insurance plans have limited service areas and provider network restrictions. In this way, a healthcare plan becomes a hard choice for most Americans.
Right now, about 28.9 million Americans remain uninsured. For those who do have health coverage, life is still about making difficult choices about their health.
For example, the story of Rebecca Wood, who needed a root canal treatment but decided to postpone it because her daughter was taking speech therapy. Both of their treatments were not covered by their health insurance.
She ended up getting a tooth infection and had to undergo great pain and stress. In a first-world country like the United States, stories like hers are pretty standard.
The implementation of Medicare-for-all will provide health coverage to every American, regardless of their ability to pay.
It will give people some more options while choosing their physicians. Also, it will significantly bring down health spending and reduce administrative costs for doctors and hospitals. The
Arguments Against Medicare-for-All
The main argument against Medicare-for-all is an economic one. It will cost billions more dollars than the present healthcare system. Will the U.S. government be able to afford it? That’s where it becomes controversial.
The total cost of a single-payer healthcare system has been a much-debated issue. The leading proponents of Medicare-for-all, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were asked how they would pay for it.
While Sanders did not comment, Elizabeth Warren proposed a plan.
According to Warren’s plan, there would be an ‘Employer-Medicare’ contribution to the costs of the new healthcare system. The rest of the cost would be covered by the savings brought in through changes in the system, such as the wealth tax and immigration reform.
This plan generated a lot of discussions. However, it was called ‘unrealistic’ by experts.
Regarding the exact cost of Medicare-for-all, there is no single figure. There are a lot of estimates. For example, one of the estimates claims that it will cost about $40 trillion over ten years.
The current U.S. President, Joe Biden, disagrees with the plan. He says it will not be feasible and will cause a rise in taxes on the middle class.
Biden’s healthcare plan is about improving and expanding the Affordable Care Act, redefining affordable healthcare for families, introducing tax credits changes, and adding a public option in the health insurance marketplaces.
Will Medicare-for-all ever become a reality? Given that the United States’ polarization over this issue is increasing, it’s hard to say. However, it’s plausible to say that we may see an option closer to Medicare-for-all becoming a reality soon.