Seth Denson: 'Medicare-for-all' isn't what it sounds like

Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., released a “2.0” version of his "Medicare-for-all" plan. The self-proclaimed socialist has long promoted the idea of universal health care, and in his latest version, he has found a way to expand his proposal even more to the left.

With each of the declared Democratic presidential candidates coming out in support of some expanded version of Medicare, one should ask, how much of Medicare is really in these plans? In researching the Sanders plan, one might find that there’s very little Medicare at all – as a matter of fact, as it relates to Medicare, it's about marketing more than mechanics.

Under Sanders' plan, instead of choices, Americans will be offered “one-size-fits-all” coverage. This would encompass not only all health care and prescription drugs, but also dental, vision, and long-term care. Sure, the thought of getting all of these things for “free” may sound good to the uninformed reader, but as most economists will tell you, everything costs something. There is no such thing as "free." Sanders has called it "a matter of principle," but to paraphrase James Carville, it’s a matter of economy, stupid.

Presently, the federal government's annual revenue is $3.6 trillion. While Sanders claims his plan would cost around $1.2 trillion, he hasn’t actually produced any metrics showing how he made that estimate. Independent research has shown an anticipated cost closer to $3.26 trillion.

When you hear Democrats rally around "Medicare-for -all," it’s important to realize that they actually mean a centralized, single-payer system.

In that event, federal revenue would need to nearly double in order to pay for the program. That means mean high taxes. Sure, the left can claim that they will only tax the rich, but let’s be real. When it comes to new taxes, it’s the middle-class that suffers. The impact would be extensive, and it would include the loss of jobs and innovation, and the possible rationing of care.

Of approximately 128 million employees in the U.S., around 2.6 million are employed in the health care system. Many of their jobs could be lost in the event of "Medicare-for-all." Additionally, consider the call centers, technicians, facilities support, property management, real estate, custodial, food service workers and others whose jobs are supported by the current structure of health care.

It’s not just about jobs. The United States is responsible for the vast majority of medical innovation throughout the world. We advance medicine because of our free-market ingenuity. If you want health care to stop advancing instantly, just get rid of free-market capitalism.


The rationing of care wouldn't necessarily mean "death panels," but there would need to be a government entity that controls the claims and procedures to be approved or denied. Look no further than the United Kingdom to see that because of budget management, factors such as age, life expectancy, and past life choices influence who is approved for care.

When you hear Democrats rally around "Medicare-for-all," it’s important to realize that they actually mean a centralized, single-payer system. There’s very little Medicare at all.