Is "Medicare For All" Realistic? Bernie Sanders' Plan Is Expensive, But That Might Not Be The Point

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A study published by George Mason University's Mercatus Center, described by Axios as a "libertarian policy" organization, says that Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan would be expensive — incredibly so. The author behind the paper, Charles Blahous, predicts that Sanders' health care strategy will end up costing Americans almost $33 trillion. But that might not be the point. Even Axios, which shared the study, adds a cautious caveat at the very bottom of its article noting:

All told, "Medicare for All" would actually slightly reduce the total amount we pay for health care.

Sanders’ plan — if he succeeds in implementing it — will instead "increase the share of that cost paid through taxes, rather than through insurance premiums or out of pocket costs, according to Axios. Since February, Democrats have slowly and steadily expressed their support for the Vermont senator's stance on a better health care system for Americans.

So far, Blahous' study seems to be receiving criticism for his analysis. In fact, in a statement slamming the study, Sanders said, "This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a 'Medicare for all' program." And for Business Insider, Bob Bryan wrote that "while the price tag for the federal government would increase, the total cost of healthcare would go down while also providing healthcare to more than 30 million uninsured Americans."

While writing for Business Insider, Bryan also said, "The study contains assumptions, and there are numerous political and practical concerns in shifting the burden of healthcare payments to the federal government." He added that Blahous' study does admit that "tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans would have access to healthcare and the United States as a whole would end up spending less than it is expected to right now" under Sanders' proposal.

Still, there are some who agree with the apprehension in Blahous' study and one of them is House Speaker Paul Ryan. "$32.6 trillion dollars," Ryan tweeted after the study came out. "That’s how much Washington Democrats’ single-payer healthcare proposal would cost over 10 years. Even doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes wouldn’t cover this cost. It is just absurd."

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While House Speaker Ryan may seem keen to believe Blahous' paper, critics of the latter's study note that the current American health care system has cost, as of 2016, $3.3 trillion on an annual basis. This behemoth amount includes federal expenditure and the private market for medical health care seekers along with other expenses. The eye-opening figure comes from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

For those in favor of "Medicare for All," the idea is simple. In a special study published by The Economist in April, the magazine argued in in favor of a universal health care system, stating that poor and rich would benefit from it. It seems like this is the kind of equality Sanders expanded on as well. In his statement published after Blahous' paper came out, he kept it straightforward: "If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same."