Medicare For All would be good in so many ways

Ryan Grim and Zaid Jilani report on a new study that finds that adopting the Medicare For All plan advocated by Bernie Sanders that is increasingly supported by politicians and the public would not only improve the availability and quality of health care and cut costs but also result in increased wages for people. But what is noticeable is that this study was not done at some leftists but by a former Bush administration economist and issued by a conservative think tank.

A NEW STUDY from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is making headlines for projecting that Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” bill is estimated to cost $32.6 trillion — a number that’s entirely in line with 2016 projections, and is literally old news. But what the Associated Press headline fails to announce is a much more sanguine update: The report, by Senior Research Strategist Charles Blahous, found that under Sanders’s plan, overall health costs would go down, and wages would go up.

The study, which came out of the Koch-funded research center, was initially provided to the AP with a cost estimate that exceeded previous ones by an incredible $3 trillion — a massive error that was found and corrected by Sanders’s staff when approached by AP for comment.

But despite that correction, the report actually yields a wealth of good news for advocates of Sanders’s plan — a remarkable conclusion, given that Blahous is a former Bush administration economist working at a prominent conservative think tank.

Even using Blahous’s numbers — which may be off by roughly $15 trillion according to Himmelstein and Woolhandler’s estimates — the conclusion is plain: “Medicare for All” would cover more people, increase the quality of coverage, and cost less than is currently being spent on health care. “Blahous admits that covering the uninsured and upgrading coverage for most others could be achieved at virtually no additional cost through a single payer reform,” Himmelstein and Woolhandler conclude.

We need to adopt Medicare For All. Now.


  1. Heidi Nemeth says

    The Medicare system I have been using for the last 7 months -- since I turned 65, is not a single payer system. It is complicated enough that I was told to start learning about it a year in advance by reading books, pamphlets, signing up for online information and attending OSHIIP seminars. The choices are myriad. I am dealing with 2 insurance companies (plus Medicare) and I don’t even have dental or eye care. Yes, there are deductibles, copays, and all the other insurance payment hassles. I could have gone with a health maintenance organization instead of the amalgam of providers I have accumulated over my lifetime. That choice would have meant only one insurance card and one insurance bill, and included dental and vision coverage. But I would have had to get all my care from their (less than convenient) facilities and I could not go out of system (out of town -- which I do often) without pretty severe penalties. How about a single payer system? One even better than Medicare? One which doesn’t require a lot of effort to understand and utilize?

  2. Mano Singham says


    Yes, a better single-payer system would be desirable. But Medicare For All is the best way to progress along that road because the infrastructure is already there that can accommodate the entire population.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    Medicare for All Will Save Trillions, Conservative Wonks Forced to Admit

    Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would boost government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes, says a study released Monday by a university-based libertarian policy center.

    When someone says that Medicare for all costs $32 trillion, we should mention how our current system costs $49 trillion.

    This is an important point. The proposed system is not occuring in a vacuum.
    1) Health care is going to cost us money, whether we pay for it through this plan or by some other means. The comparative costs are important.
    2) Not having health care also costs money in decreased quality of life and decreased ability to work. This ought to be considered as well.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ Reginald Selkirk
    Health care is going to cost us money,
    Only too true but judging by the study, a couple of Canadian studies on drug costs and just overall comparable costs in much the Western world, a single-payer system is almost guaranteed to be cheaper and should provide better care.

    Just admin cost alone should drop drastically. After reading Heidi Nemeth’s description of medicare, I thought of my health insurance in Ontario. By no means the best plan in the world but it does cover a fair bit.

    I go for a family doctor’s appointment or to see an opthamologist, I hand in my health card at the reception desk and try to remember to pick it up on the way out. The billing backend is a bit more complicated, of course, but my family clinic usually has two clerks for about 4 doctors and 4-5 residents.

  5. Trickster Goddess says

    I recall reading about a business case study about a decade ago wherein Toyota was planing to build a new car factory in North America. They narrowed down their choice of location to either Kentucky or Ontario. In the end they chose Ontario because they crunched the numbers and found that paying higher taxes and having government supplied health insurance was cheaper than paying lower taxes in Kentucky but having to foot the health insurance bill themselves. Given that, I don’t understand why American corporations in general aren’t lobbying for single payer health in the US.

    In addition, having a single payer health would also allow for startups and small business to better compete in attracting new workers.

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