MEDICARE-FOR-ALL FAVORED BY 70% OF AMERICANS
Also known as the single-payer health care, Medicare-for-all receives positive feedback from 70 percent of Americans. A poll from the new Reuters reflected the number of the bill supporters, which consisted of 85 percent Democrats and 52 percent Republicans. Only 20 percent of the survey are against the idea.
In an interview with CNBC Make It, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Larry Levitt said, “Medicare is a very popular program, so the idea of expanding it to everyone is popular as well.”
“The advantage of Medicare-for-all, which is much closer to how the rest of the world provides health care to their residents, is that you can achieve universal coverage at a lower cost,” he added.
According to Gallup, the majority of Americans are disproving the country’s for-profit healthcare system. In a survey, 71 percent believes the system is “in a state of crisis” or “has major problems.”
Many Americans are dissatisfied with today’s US healthcare system due to its inefficiency, continuous upsurge and its limitations for access. In 2017, the annual deduction to employees who have sponsored health care plans was $1,505. In 2006, it was only $303, according to KFF.
Last year, workers paid an average of $5,714 for monthly premiums, which increased by 3 percent compared to the year before.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, people in the US skip treatments due to its high costs, which is mostly costlier than 11 of the high-income countries. In 2017, a survey conducted by Bankrate showed that 1 out of 4 Americans forego necessary medical care because they couldn’t pay for it. JPMorgan Chase Institute found that millions of people in the US wait for a year to get their tax refund until they can access medical care.
Sacrificing treatment is already bad news. According to Atul Gawande of MacArthur Foundation, affordability of medical care is even worse because a regular doctor’s check-up can save tons of lives.
Gawande was also the chosen leader of a united healthcare venture by Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway that aimed to tackle hiking medical care costs, he stated in The New Yorker “incremental care — regular, ongoing care as opposed to heroic, emergency care,”
“Is the greatest source of value in modern medicine,” he added.
The Reuters described Medicare-for-all as “a publicly financed, privately delivered system with all Americans enrolled and all medically necessary services covered.” Theoretically, it can be the solution to many issues of America’s problematic healthcare system.
In September 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders told the public about his Medicare-for-all bill. The proposal aims to decrease the number of uninsured residents, which is about 12 percent of the US population. The plan is to get it to 0 by enrolling Americans in a public insurance plan. The proposal says there will be no deductibles or co-payments, and people can purchase supplemental care from private insurers.
Now that Senator Sanders conceded, the bill has a low chance of passing the Congress with a Republican majority. It’s all up to today’s Democrats to put the proposal in legislation and to bring attention to the drawbacks of the current system.
The single-payer system offers simpler structure on who will pay the cost. Unlike the current American system that has more complex mechanics such as balance billing.
Today’s inefficient healthcare system affected many Americans such as, in an incident report by NPR, where a 44-year-old teacher and triathlete from Austin, Texas, Drew Calver had a heart attack. Calver was brought to an out-of-network hospital and acquired stents.
Network healthcare providers, doctors, and hospitals are covered in a plan. Out-of-network providers are either not covered by the program or are covered at a lower cost, which means the patient is responsible for the majority of the bill.
About 18 percent of hospital-admitted patients fall to out-of-network coverage. Most of them go to an in-network hospital but end up getting treatments from an out-of-network doctor. Many of the patients who couldn’t afford the hospital bill say they weren’t aware they were receiving medical care outside of their insurance coverage.
Calver got out of the hospital after four days. Although the hospital assured that his insurance got accepted, he still ended up having a bill that’s almost $110,000.
Levitt to CNBC, “under a pure Medicare-for-all plan, those issues would go away.”
It’s true that a growing number of Americans support Medicare-for-all. Despite that, the proposal still receives criticisms.
“The arguments we’ve found that resonate are that it would give the government too much control over the health-care system, that people would have to give up their current insurance plans, and that it would increase taxes,” Levitt told CNBC.
According to CNBC, the proposal means “what you would save by not forking over premiums, co-pays when you go to the doctor or deductibles when you visit the emergency room would outweigh any additional amount you pay in taxes. That point is central to the debate over the viability of universal health care.”
“The average of what people would pay when you take into account taxes, premiums and out-of-pocket costs would go down,” Levitt explained to CNBC. “Generally, lower-income people would end up paying less for health care. But higher-income people would pay a whole lot more. It depends a lot on which taxes end up getting increased in order to pay for the new plan.”
Critics say that the most significant issue the government would face from the bill is a gruesome financial burden. In a report from Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the proposal would result in a $32.6 trillion increase in federal expenses over the next ten years.
Canadians pay about the same amount of tax compared to Americans, but they are able to implement a single-payer system successfully. In a study by the Commonwealth Fund in 2017, Canada ranked 9th among the 11 high-income countries, while America was at the end of the list.
Supporters of the single-payer healthcare said the report from Mercatus suggests, the country’s health expenditures could decrease to about $2 trillion over the 10-year period.
“Lower spending is driven by lower provider payment rates, drug savings, and administrative cost savings,” Manhattan Institute’s Yevgeniy Feyman told Vox. “It’s not clear to what extent those savings are politically feasible, and socially beneficial.”
Currently, administrative and pharmaceutical costs are higher in the US than other high-income countries, as well as the doctors earn more in the country. With the Medicare-for-all, doctors would significantly earn less, according to Mercatus report.
Up to now, Sanders has not released any financial plan for the bill and how it would affect consumers and the medical industry. The whole impact of the proposal is still unclear. However, it’s apparent that the majority of Americans favors Medicare-for-all, and Vox also pointed out, “in the Democratic wing of the Senate, every major potential presidential candidate has endorsed it.”