Medicare For All — Isn’t
Medicare is one of the most popular programs the federal government has ever created. To capitalize on Medicare’s popularity, proponents of single-payer healthcare are calling their plans “Medicare For All”.
The details of the “Medicare For All” plans, however, are NOTHING like Medicare. Medicare works for a variety of reasons. “Medicare For All” throws out the very things that have made Medicare successful and popular.
#1 Medicare works because it is NOT single-payer
Proponents of single-payer healthcare say Medicare works because it is single-payer. That’s completely false. Medicare is NOT single-payer. Medicare has five payers..
Medicare Part A premiums are paid by employees and employers through payroll taxes.
Medicare Part B premiums are paid by those enrolled in Medicare.
Medicare Parts C and D benefits are paid by private insurance companies.
Medicare deductibles and co-payments are paid by Medicare enrollees OR by a private insurance company.
Lastly, the federal government helps low-income seniors cover the cost of Medicare Part B premiums, co-payments and deductibles.
#2 Medicare works because it does NOT pay for long-term care
Proponents of single-payer healthcare say their plan will cover long-term care. Medicare has never paid for “long-term care”. Medicare’s benefits are focused on highly-skilled (and expensive) medical care, not low-cost, lower-skilled, “personal care”.
Even developed countries with single-payer healthcare do NOT provide free long-term care. For example, Germany has mandatory long-term care insurance. The United Kingdom, Canada, and France require their citizens to spend their own savings and income to cover the cost of long-term care.
According to AARP, family members provide about $500 Billion of long-term care each year. If long-term care was included in Medicare, it would blow up the Medicare budget.
#3 Medicare works because it has LOTS of choices
At age 65, everyone gets Medicare Part A for free.
You can choose to enroll in Medicare Part B or you can skip it.
If you have employer-sponsored medical insurance, you can choose that in place of Medicare Part B.
If you have Medicare Parts A & B, you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance company. There are six different types of Medicare Advantage plans you can choose from. If you don’t want a Medicare Advantage plan, you can buy a Medigap policy from a private insurance company. There are 11 different choices for Medigap policies.
You can choose Medicare Part D or not. If you do choose to enroll in Medicare Part D there are LOTS of different plans to choose from.
Is Medicare simple? NO.
Does Medicare offer a lot of choices? YES.
It’s kind of like the cereal aisle in the grocery store. It would be simpler if there was only one type of cereal. It’s better to have a lot of choices and pick the cereal you like best.
#4 Medicare works because it does NOT use “global budgeting”
“Global budgeting” is a nice way to say “spending cap”. Medicare does NOT have an annual spending cap. Single-payer healthcare proposals do.
They call it “global budgeting”.
That means the federal government (i.e. the single-payer) will put a cap, every year, on how much they are going to spend on health care.
There are only three ways to stay within the “global budget”: delay services by imposing waiting lists, reduce payments to doctors and hospitals, or both.
Medicare works because it does NOT restrict or delay your healthcare in order to stay under a predetermined spending cap.
My body, my choice.
Is there anything more important, or more personal, than taking care of your own body? Having control over your own healthcare choices is why Medicare is so popular.
A single-payer healthcare system would certainly be cheaper and simpler. But cheaper and simpler doesn’t mean better. A horse and buggy are cheaper and simpler than a Tesla.
Do we need better healthcare in our country? YES.
Do we need to lower the cost of healthcare in our country? YES.
The question becomes: Who can do that better?
A federal bureaucracy
Apple, Amazon, Google, and hundreds of healthcare-tech start-ups.
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