At last night’s debate stage, Democratic “moderates” like Buttigieg and Biden tried, once more, to differentiate themselves from the socialist wing of their party by flaunting their totally consensual “Medicare for Some.” Unlike Sanders’ and Warren’s “Medicare for All,” their plan would give Americans a “choice” between a private and public option.
This choice is deception. In reality, Medicare for Some is just a Trojan horse for single-payer healthcare.
Private insurers are in the business to make a profit, whereas our government seems most apt at running up trillions of dollars in debt. Medicare for Some would be no different: perpetually in the red, and heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars. It would provide exorbitant benefits at a price lower than any private insurer could afford.
There would be no way for an insurance company to profitably compete with a government option. As Lewis Carroll put it in the Red Queen’s race: it would take “all the running you can do just to keep in the same place.”
Insurance is, above all, a numbers game. With its generous subsidies, Medicare for Some would siphon customers away from private insurers, driving up the prices for those left in the private market, and also driving up the bill for taxpayers. If funded as the Democrats propose, Medicare for Some would soon enough become Medicare for All.
Moreover, public hospitals in the US (the vast majority of hospitals) legally cannot refuse patients with public insurance (like Medicare and Medicaid). The Obamacare expansion more than doubled the number of people on Medicaid, which has already sent many hospitals into financial turmoil because the program reimburses doctors and hospitals much less than do other insurers. Government insurance is a monopoly bleeding hospitals dry.
If the much more ambitious Medicare for Some similarly took American healthcare hostage with coercive, subpar reimbursements, it could spell disaster. We’d not only be running up our debt but also exacerbating our projected 122,000 physician shortage.
Medicare for Some may seem the more palatable, consensual proposal for healthcare reform from Democrats. It’s not. Medicare for Some is just Medicare for All with a few extra steps.
For the 71% of Americans who appreciate their current private insurer, Medicare for Some would, in due time, deprive them of that option.
America is a nation founded on choice and competition, and government insurance would inherently stifle competition and deprive patients, doctors, and hospitals of choice. Nobody will end up with better healthcare if their insurer is forced out of the market and their doctor is forced to see patients.
Next time you hear a politician suggest choosing Medicare for Some, keep in mind that it may be the last choice in healthcare you ever get to make.
Adam Barsouk is a medical student, cancer researcher, and health policy graduate. His writing has appeared in Forbes, Fox News, Newsweek and more.