March 12, 2019

Medicare for None: No Options, No Choice


  • House Democrats have introduced new legislation to put the federal government in control of Americans’ health care choices.
  • “Medicare for All” – better described as “Medicare for None” – would make private and employer-sponsored coverage illegal, forcing Americans into a one-size-fits-all health care plan.
  • The cost will be so exorbitant it will inevitably mean higher taxes and lower wages for Americans across the board.

House Democrats have released their latest plan to disband all private health insurance – including employer-sponsored plans. Americans would be at the mercy of the federal government to control their health care. There would be no alternatives, as all employer and private coverage would be outlawed. In addition to losing the freedom to make their own health care choices, American families of all types will bear the cost of implementing this scheme, not just the wealthy.

M4A_Financial Impact

CBO has not scored the latest “Medicare for None” proposal, but in 2018, an independent study of a much smaller plan by Senator Bernie Sanders estimated it would add $32.6 trillion to the federal budget over its first 10 years. The author of that study noted “doubling all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added costs of the plan.” Another researcher, at Emory University, analyzed a plan by Senator Sanders in 2016. He predicted that “71 percent of workers and their families with private insurance would pay more for the single payer tax compared to the additional insurance benefits.”

Sponsors of the most recent bill in the House have not yet released a list of ways to pay for the plan. Whatever they propose, it is clear that taxing top earners and requiring employers to pay into the system will not cover the cost. Every American’s pocketbook will be needed, and then some.

outlawing private health insurance

Democrats’ legislation echoes some of the language in Senator Sanders’ earlier bill: “It shall be unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.” It would not only ban employer-sponsored coverage, it would also eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHIP, forcing current beneficiaries into the centralized government health plan within two years of enactment. Supporters of the legislation have said they would “eliminate all of that.” Only Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Services would remain and operate outside the one-size-fits-all government-run health service.

M4A_Kamala Quote

The latest version of “Medicare for None” goes beyond Senator Sanders’ proposal in other ways. In addition to covering dental, vision, and prescription drugs, the government will manage long-term care coverage, such as nursing home and community-based care. Abortions, which generally cannot be covered by government-funded plans today, would be paid for by all American taxpayers. 

Because Washington would be paying all the bills, the legislation gives the Health and Human Services secretary the authority to determine what care is “necessary.” In effect, Americans’ health care would be determined by government bureaucrats. Countries that have opted for such a health care system show the kind of rationing that results in damage to patient care, including wait lists, cancellations, and poor quality care. In Canada, the median wait time last year for medically necessary treatment from a specialist was almost 20 weeks. Patients waited about 11 weeks on average to get an MRI, and nearly a month to get an ultrasound.

outrageous cost, no plan to pay for it

Democratic presidential candidates have rallied around the idea of government-supplied health care. As a campaign slogan, Medicare for All is appealing to many Americans. In a January poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56 percent of Americans favor the idea. This support was based largely on a misunderstanding of what the legislation actually would do. When the pollsters told people it would eliminate all private health insurance, or raise their taxes, support dropped to 37 percent. Learning that it would lead to delays in getting tests and treatments cut approval to just 26 percent.

Rather than pursuing reforms to keep patients and doctors in charge of their individual health care decisions and to ensure quality, Democrats are determined to expand government’s reach at any cost. They also are determined to do it quickly – the latest proposal would be implemented within just two years of passage. In Vermont, a plan to implement single-payer health care failed in 2014 after the governor acknowledged there was no feasible way to pay for it. California’s legislature, with a Democratic super-majority in both chambers, also failed to pass state-based “Medicare for None” in 2017 due to the cost. In 2016, 79 percent of Colorado voters rejected a universal health care proposal at the ballot box.

In return for the drastic tax increases the government-controlled system would demand, families will be forced to hand over control of their health care to Washington. Americans deserve a detailed billing statement showing exactly how much the Democrats’ plan will cost them individually. Proponents of “Medicare for None” have done little work to identify how they will pay for their health care overhaul. Instead, they have tried their best to avoid specifics on their plan to reshape American health care.

Issue Tag: Health Care