What is Medicare for All?
A national health insurance program is not a new idea, but the issue has come to the forefront of American political debates recently for a several reasons:
- A demographic shift: the baby boomers have reached retirement age, increasing the demand for healthcare.
- Costs have risen dramatically over the past half century.
- The Census Bureau reported that 8.8% of the population (or 28.5 million people) did not have health insurance at any point during 2017.
MFA attempts to solve the problem of high uninsured rates and the risk of financial ruin from healthcare costs, and aims to bring US health expenditures more in line with other countries. It would transition the US to a federally mandated single-payer healthcare system, entailing a single government-run plan providing insurance coverage to all Americans.
Under MFA, higher tax revenue would have government spending directly replace much of consumers’ healthcare costs (premiums, deductibles, co-pays for doctor visits, out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, etc.). With the entire population under one plan, the US government would have a leading role in setting care prices, rationing resources, and distributing benefits. Based on some estimates, this could cost the US government USD 32-33tr over a 10-yr period, but proponents believe could lower the US’s overall outlay on healthcare costs by about USD 2tr, over the same time period.