Medicare-For-All Working Group (M4A)

Healthcare is a human right and as such the DSA, Space Coast DSA and many others around the country are working towards bringing Medicare to everyone in this country. Here are our five demands:

  1. A Universal Program: Everyone will be covered by one healthcare system and have equal access to all medical services and treatments.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage: All services requiring a medical professional will be fully covered.
  3. Free at the point of service: All healthcare costs will be financed through tax contributions based on ability to pay — no out of pocket payments for services or treatments.
  4. Coverage for all U.S. residents: Non-citizens included.
  5. Jobs: A jobs initiative and severance for those affected by the transition.

What is Medicare for All?

Medicare for All is a universal national health insurance system in which a public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private. Under a universal public healthcare system, all U.S. residents would be covered for all services covered by a medical professional, including: primary care, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive healthcare, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care. (Under Sanders’ Medicare for All Act of 2017, long term care will not be covered, and consumers may have to pay up to $250 on prescription drugs, but these are things that could be changed under the demands of a mass movement. Sanders’ bill also creates a four-year transition period to Medicare for All, budgets a significant amount for the creation of a medical industry jobs transition program, and offers educational debt relief for medical professionals.)

Question: How will we keep drug prices under control?

When all patients are under one system, the payer wields a lot of clout. The VA gets a 40% discount on drugs because of its buying power. This “monopsony” buying power is the main reason why other countries’ drug prices are lower than ours. This also explains the drug industry’s staunch opposition to universal national health insurance.

Won’t Medicare for All lead to long wait times and rationing of care?

No. It will eliminate the rationing going on today. The U.S. already rations care based on ability to pay: if you can afford care, you get it; if you can’t, you don’t. At least 30,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance. Many more people skip treatments that their insurance company refuses to cover. That’s rationing.

Excessive wait times are often cited by opponents of reform as an inevitable consequence of universal, publicly financed health systems. They are not. Wait times are a function of a health system’s capacity and its ability to monitor and manage patient flow. With a universal healthcare system - one that uses effective management techniques and which is not burdened with the huge administrative costs associated with the private insurance industry - everyone could obtain comprehensive, affordable care in a timely way.

I have good health benefits through my work. Why would I want healthcare reform?

Many with excellent workplace health insurance have found that a serious illness or injury may cause them to lose their job, and subsequently their health insurance. Under the current model, healthcare is tied to your job, and the costs are increasingly pushed onto workers. Under a public Medicare for All system, we would replace expensive and unpredictable employer-sponsored premiums with a stable and lower cost insurance that you can use regardless of your job status. Furthermore, employers pay the full cost of health insurance out of reduced wages, and healthcare costs are devastating municipal, state, and federal budgets, cutting into vital public services like education and infrastructure. Switching to a universal healthcare system means health security that cannot be taken away by misfortune; savings for workers, employers and government; and the ability to control cost growth into the future.

Will this put the government between me and my healthcare provider?

No. Right now, many health decisions are made by corporate executives behind closed doors. They determine which physicians and hospitals you are allowed to see, imposing deductibles and co-payments that often make appropriate treatments impossible, and refusing to pay for care that your providers deem necessary. Insurance companies are interested in profit, not providing care, and as a result 32 million have no insurance, tens of millions more are underinsured, and most are at risk of financial disaster should they become seriously ill. Under Medicare for All, every resident would have full choice of provider, we could eliminate cost barriers to recommended care, and all medical decisions would be made by doctors and patients together, with the health of the patient as the only factor determining treatment. No one will go without care.

Question: Would Medicare for All drive up my taxes?

Medicare for All would replace high, unpredictable premiums with lower, stable taxes. Unless you are among the top 5% of income earners, the bill is expected to reduce your total healthcare costs. In 2016, the average working family paid $6273/year in premiums and deductibles to private insurance companies. Under Medicare for All, a family of four earning $50,000/year would pay just $466/year in taxes for single-payer healthcare, amounting to savings of over $5800/year.
Currently, about 65% of our healthcare system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes, and tax subsidies. These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and coverage for public employees (including police and teachers, elected officials, military personnel, etc.). There are also hefty tax subsidies to employers to help pay for their employees’ health insurance.

How can we afford to cover everyone/won’t it be too expensive?

Americans already have the highest healthcare spending in the world. Consider that over half of all the money spent on healthcare in the world is spent in the United States but only a fraction of our spending goes directly to medical care compared with other industrialized countries. Since we pay for healthcare through a patchwork of private insurance companies, about one-third (31 percent) of our health spending goes to administrative overhead (also known as “transaction costs”).

Potential savings from recovering the money currently squandered on billing, marketing, underwriting and other activities that sustain insurers' profits have been estimated at $400 billion/year. Combined with what we’re already spending, this is more than enough to provide comprehensive coverage for everyone.

Won’t Medicare for All just be another bureaucracy?

The United States has the most bureaucratic healthcare system in the world. Over 31 cents of every healthcare dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. Because the U.S. does not have a unified system that serves everyone, and instead has thousands of different insurance plans, each with its own marketing, paperwork, enrollment, premiums, and rules and regulations, our insurance system is both extremely complex and fragmented.

The Medicare program operates with just 3% overhead, compared to 15% to 25% overhead at a typical HMO. Provincial universal plans in Canada have an overhead of about 1%. It is not necessary to have a huge bureaucracy to decide who gets care and who doesn’t when everyone is covered and has the same comprehensive benefits.