Medicare for All – Pros and Cons

Medicare for All would provide a single-payer health plan, run by the government, for everyone. Currently, Medicare is a federal program providing health coverage to those 65 and older and certain disabled individuals. While it’s clear that Medicare for All is unlikely under this administration, it’s certainly a topic many are discussing.

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Pros and Cons of Medicare for All

The most significant benefit to Medicare for All is that the government covers healthcare costs while ensuring doctors provide reasonably affordable quality care. In theory, universal healthcare leads to a healthier society and workforce. But, the biggest downside is that healthy people pay for the medical care of less healthy people.

Pros of Medicare for All:

  • Coverage for all
  • Doctors get equal pay.
  • Spending leverage for lower rates
  • Medicare and Medicaid are single-payer systems.

Cons of Medicare for All:

  • Providers can choose only private pay options unless mandated differently.
  • Doesn’t solve the shortage of doctors
  • Health insurance costs may not disappear.
  • Requires a tax increase
  • Shifts costs of employer coverage

How Does Single-Payer Healthcare Work?

Single-payer healthcare is a form of universal healthcare financed through taxes. This coverage would provide essential healthcare for all, and a single public paying system would cover costs.

Canada uses a single-payer system to contract healthcare services from private organizations. Whereas the United Kingdom owns healthcare resources and employs personnel.

Single-payer only means a single public authority pays for healthcare. This kind of system pays for all covered healthcare-related services.

How Much Would Medicare for All Cost?

A single-payer healthcare system would cost the government a tremendous amount. According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Medicare for All would cost $32.6 trillion from 2022-2031.

Medicare for All would be paid for by:

  • 7.5% income-based premium from employers
  • 4% income-based premium from households
  • The progressive income tax rate

The marginal income tax rates would become:

  • 52% on incomes above $10 million
  • 50% between $2 million and $10 million
  • 45% on income between $500,000 and $2 million
  • 40% between $250,000 and $500,000

Medicare for all would replace the Affordable Care Act and provide everyone with healthcare. Funding for this program would come from the public, much like Medicare and Medicaid.

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How Medicare for All Proposals Would Directly Impact Medicaid

Medicare for All would eliminate Medicaid. Medicaid is the most extensive health insurance program in the United States, covering over 73 million Americans. These beneficiaries would lose their coverage with Medicaid or CHIP and obtain Medicare for All coverage. Yet, the needs of those who are on disability or recently incarcerated will also require consideration.

Public Opinion on Medicare for All

According to a KFF poll, 56% of citizens support Medicare For All. Yet, 68% like a public option where a government plan competes with private insurance and is accessible to all Americans.

A majority of Americans feel that taxes for most would increase under a Medicare for All plan. Many also think that more people would have coverage with a Medicare for All system.

Medicare for Everyone

With 32 out of 33 developed countries having some form of universal health care, it’s not surprising that Medicare for All is a popular concept in the United States. The U.S. is the only developed country without a universal health care option. The current President has proposed a public option similar to Medicare, as well as lowering the eligibility age for Medicare itself to 60.

Universal health coverage could offer every American affordable, reasonable care. People sometimes go to the emergency room for basic care because they would be turned away from other places for lacking coverage.

The highest tax is on those making more than $10 million annually. But, the average American would see lower copays and better coverage.

Also, the program is likely to be more efficient. With only one public agency run by regional boards, there would be higher job satisfaction for doctors. Thus, more students will want to be doctors.

People currently receiving free-market healthcare in other countries pay less than half the cost we pay in the United States. They have quality healthcare for their entire lives and peace of mind knowing they have this coverage.

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Sanders is NOT Proposing Medicare for All

Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the driving forces behind a new health insurance program, but it’s not Medicare for all. Sanders has proposed to replace the current Medicare program with a universal public health insurance program. A UPIP would not significantly impact Original Medicare, but it could reduce the need for Medicare Supplements, also known as Medigap plans. 

Providers could still accept private insurance, but only if they did not participate in Medicare for All. In addition, Medicare insurance companies could only cover services that are uncovered. Currently, they only supplement the cost of services that are covered. Depending on the healthcare needs of each individual beneficiary, they could find that Medigap is not worth the cost. The average cost of Medicare Supplement plans can run between $50-$300+ per month.

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

2 thoughts on “Medicare for All – Pros and Cons

  1. I disagree with: “… the program is likely to be more efficient. With only one public agency run by regional boards, there would be higher job satisfaction for doctors. Thus, more students will want to be doctors.”
    Working under a single (huge) bureaucracy, that is going to need doctors to care for more people, in less time, for LESS MONEY, is NOT likely to “attract” students to the medical field based on “current” expectations of “future” doctors. There would need to be a substantial increase in the number and use of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, and the availability/use of telemedicine to provide “basic coverage”. Supervising doctors and those providing more advanced care would need “other” incentives such as more regular hours without extra long shifts and more time off to have a better work/life balance (which would eat up any savings and then some of paying lower salaries (if that was done). One challenge is how to incorporate all that while retaining a system that encourages, recognizes, and appropriately rewards the development of expertise by those that become needed healthcare specialists, and can coexist with “private practice docs”, without losing all of its talent to “specialists to the wealthy”.

    1. Hi Jim! Interesting point that the lowering of pay of physicians will lead to an increasing dependence on PAs and NPs… because that’s already happening! The cost of a medical education is SO unbelievably expensive that many students with an interest in medicine are going into fields with lower costs of education like PA and Nursing. Since that trend already exists in our current healthcare system, I don’t think that’s the largest critique to be made about Medicare for All. Perhaps, then, we place reform for student debt and the cost of higher education so those who are truly passionate about medicine have access to that education.


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