July 30, 2018

Medicare For All

A mathematical reality check

by Chris Thomas

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has had Medicare For All at the top of his legislative wish list since just-about-forever. Sanders’ basic argument is that healthcare is a human right and that it’s scandalous that in a wealthy, developed country, people go without healthcare because they can’t afford it.

But healthcare is expensive. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University issued a report suggesting that Medicare For All would tack $32.6 trillion dollars onto the US budget over the next ten years.

And that does sound like a lot of money.

While the Left — heck, even the Associated Press — are quick to go after the Mercatus Center as funded by the Koch Brothers and run by a George W. Bush adviser, the figure itself deserves scrutiny.

$32,600,000,000,000.00 over ten years.

$3,260,000,000,000.00 per year.

$10,009.00 for every man, woman, and child in the United States, every year.

Even broken down like that — ten-grand a year sounds pretty steep. But, is it?

In 2016 the United States spent $10,348 on healthcare for every man, woman, and child. 2017 and 2018 estimates suggest $10,724 and $11,193 in per-capita spending respectively. Now the Mercatus study figures a steady rise in the cost of healthcare and the percentage of GDP that the United States spends on it; this helps to inflate the “total cost” figure with which the study headlines.

But for the sake of comparison, let’s spot Mercatus that difference. Let’s simply assess the Mercatus estimate against 10 years of 2018-level healthcare spending.

$11,193 for every man woman and child in the United States in 2018.

$3,580,000,000,000.00 per year.

$35,800,000,000,000.00 over ten years.

Or, to put it another way: according to a Koch Brothers funded study run by a Bush economic adviser, Medicare For All would save the United States $3,200,000,000,000 over ten years if our healthcare spending remains flat. It would save even more if we expected that spending to go up from year-to-year (which it will, and we do).

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Tell Congress What You Think

Let’s be honest, Medicare For All isn’t going to happen until 2021 at the earliest but big legislative changes don’t happen overnight. If you have an opinion on expanding Medicare to cover the entire US population, you can write to your Representatives and Senators by sending the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to give Congress a piece of your mind.

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