What is Medicare for All?
Medicare for All is a proposal in which the current health insurance system is taken over by the federal government. Medicare for All would take away all the business of current public health insurances and put everyone on a federal single-payer system. Advocates of this system highlight the advantage of everyone being covered, yet it is debatable whether those benefits outweigh how severe the consequences this policy choice will be on the effectiveness of health care delivery.
Is there a difference between Medicare for All and universal health care?
Medicare for All refers to a specific plan in which the current health care system is replaced with a single-payer national health care program. Under a Medicare for All plan, private insurance companies would be replaced with a single, federally run program that would pay for all medical expenses. Universal health care, on the other hand, is the term often used to refer to the wider goal of ensuring that everyone has access to health care. Universal health care might be achieved through a Medicare for All plan or through an extension of the current system, which uses a combination of private and public insurance programs.
What is single-payer health care?
A single-payer health care system is one in which the government pays for all health care expenses, financed by tax revenue. “Single payer” refers to the payment of health care, not necessarily the provision of care. Hospitals and other points of delivery can be privately owned and operated in single-payer systems.
What about other countries that have implemented single-payer health care systems?
Some countries around the world, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, have implemented single-payer health care systems. These countries typically save money on health care but do so at a cost. Single-payer health care systems across the world offer longer wait times and lower physician pay, and they often rely on outdated equipment to treat patients. Single-payer systems often lower the quality of care and underserve patients.
If Medicare for All won’t bring down health care prices, what will?
Like most markets, health care prices can be lowered through competition. Health care in the United States is a uniquely uncompetitive industry. The lack of competition means providers of care haven’t had to make prices visible. More competition among health care providers would lead to price transparency, lower costs, and better-quality care. To learn more about how competition can improve health care prices, watch our video, “Disrupting the Health Care Industry: Choice through Competition.”