In recent years, there has been a massive political shift on the issue of healthcare. Some prominent Democrats are now openly advocating for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States, one version of which is “Medicare-For-All.” Two leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — have argued for a complete overhaul of our current private-care system. They are right. A system along the lines of Medicare-For-All would not only be the morally right thing for us to do as a country, but would also be a more cost-effective way of providing healthcare to all.
The most obvious benefit of Medicare-For-All is the universal coverage it would provide. Right now, about 26 million Americans are completely without health insurance, meaning they run the risk of being unable to afford necessary procedures. Many more are underinsured, meaning they have some access to healthcare, but not enough to cover many treatments. Those without insurance who end up with more serious medical issues, like a life-threatening illness or a medical emergency, end up being forced to pay exorbitant costs out of pocket, and half a million people go bankrupt each year. If an uninsured individual, for example, had a heart-attack, they would be taken to the hospital and treated, and be left with an enormous bill for their stay in the hospital. Under a single-payer system, such as Medicare-for-all (the “single payer” being the government, which provides health insurance), everyone would have equal access to all medical treatment, regardless of their ability to pay.
Adding to the moral problem of needless deaths and bankruptcies, the American healthcare system is also incredibly inefficient. To start, we spend more on healthcare in total (and more per citizen) than any other nation in the world. The National Insurance Review estimated that at least 25 percent of healthcare spending in the US is wasteful. What causes these uniquely high costs? In a system where healthcare is provided by private companies, billions are spent on administrative costs — the complex way of figuring out how doctors, hospitals, and consumers should pay and receive funds. Even more of this ‘waste’ — and over 100 billion dollars — goes to making a profit for large healthcare corporations and shareholders each year. To maximize corporations’ return on investment, they charge the highest possible fees for services that are actually worth much less.
As Entrepreneur and Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang points out, a single-payer system would also help the vast majority of American businesses by removing the burden of mandated employer-provided healthcare. Current law mandates that any business with over 35 employees must provide health insurance, putting a major strain on many businesses that aren’t huge.
Finally, though the price-tag is high (nearly ten trillion dollars over a ten-year period by some estimates), single-payer would be cheaper than a private system. At present, Americans spend over three trillion dollars a year on healthcare costs due to price-fixing and waste. Single-payer healthcare would be cheaper overall for the country, help businesses —and make ours a more humane society.