“We have got to figure out how we pay for it. It’s unrealistic in how we pay for it today.” That was how former Virginia governor and potential presidential candidate Terry McAuliffe characterized Medicare for All, even as he was announcing his support for it.
McAuliffe is certainly right about the unrealistic part, although otherworldly would be a more appropriate description.
Put simply, there is nothing like Medicare for All anywhere in the industrialized world.
Medicare for All proposals, like the House version introduced last month by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., would offer everyone living in the United States comprehensive coverage — doctor visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, preventive care, pediatrics, rehab, mental health, dental, vision, diagnostic tests, long-term care, abortions — with no deductibles and no copayments.
As a result, virtually all of the more than $360 billion Americans spend each year out of pocket for health care would disappear overnight.
So, too, would insurance premiums, since Medicare for All would outlaw any private insurance plan that covers any of these same benefits. Those pesky insurance company hassles would disappear, too.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t like to see any doctor you want with no limitations, get every test and treatment you need, never pay a dime out of pocket and never have to deal with an insurance company?
Jayapal says, “This is not a particularly ambitious plan, in the sense that so many others have done it.”
Actually, no industrialized nation has tried anything so sweeping. Not one provides soup-to-nuts government-paid insurance that covers everything without any cost-sharing from patients. None. And even so-called single-payer systems rely on some forms of private insurance.