With Sen. Bernie Sanders introducing a new “Medicare for All” bill this month and several other Democratic presidential candidates co-sponsoring it, health care is once again a top campaign issue. The Democratic Party’s Socialist wing has hijacked the health care debate, and a closer examination of Medicare for All reveals its grim prognosis.
This plan is co-sponsored by four other senators running for president: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker. It represents a radical change in how Americans pay for and receive health care. Medicare for All ends private health care insurance, granting the federal government total control. Employer-based health care will disappear.
Ironically, Medicare will also vanish as it is rolled into this massive new program. The plan’s authors have attempted to disguise this fact by calling it Medicare for All, but that is one gigantic lie. They claim you will be able to visit any doctor or hospital, get care whenever you want, and not need to worry about cost, because everything will be covered.
Does this promise sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. There are so many strings attached that Medicare for All suffocates our health care system instead of streamlining it.
Independent experts on both sides of the political aisle have concluded that this proposal will cost at least $33 trillion over 10 years. But the costs will likely be much higher, as is often the final result with massive government programs.
There are five basic questions we should ask supporters of this plan.
1. How will we pay for this?
No one has specifically answered this question, but everyone’s taxes will increase — and possibly even double. A large chunk of money will come from payroll taxes. Under Obamacare, there were 18 new taxes. Socialized health care will cause even more taxpayer pain.
2. Will Medicare for All be free for patients?
There is no such thing as “free” health care. Confiscating the wealth of all millionaires and billionaires wouldn’t even come close to paying for this plan. The only way to make it work is by limiting the demand. That means rationing care. The wait for a new doctor visit or for surgery will escalate to months — which is exactly the case in Canada and England.
3. What happens to seniors who currently have Medicare?
Despite the intriguing sound of Medicare for All, this plan is just the opposite — Medicare for None. The $700 billion from the current annual Medicare budget will be redirected, and seniors’ benefits will change. Bureaucrats will make decisions regarding who receives treatments, something that also happens in England. That means criteria such as age and health status will factor into decisions about who receives care.
4. If I am unhappy with Medicare for All, can’t I just get care elsewhere?
No. This plan outlaws all private health care. So, if you had to wait six months for an operation in America, your only other option would be leaving the country. Socialism acolytes on Capitol Hill like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, who are themselves millionaires, could afford that. But their repressive plan will leave millions of desperate patients behind and prosecute physicians who dare defy the system.
5. At least I can still see my doctor, right?
Doubtful. Your doctor might not be around to take care of you. More than 50% of the doctors in this country are over 55 years old. This plan would slash physician reimbursement. Many older doctors will not tolerate that outcome, choosing instead to leave medicine altogether. That will create a huge doctor shortage, as seen in other countries with socialized healthcare.
Who will fill this vacuum? Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and foreign physicians (of unknown education and skill level) could try. But, even in the best-case scenario, this solution would be unsatisfactory and unsustainable. The best and brightest students would soon choose more lucrative and less demanding fields, leaving us with fewer qualified medical professionals than ever before.
This socialist health care plan is a train wreck. It promises the world but will only deliver higher taxes, rationing, inferior health care, and a doctor shortage.
Medicare for All sounds appealing — until you examine it closely. As P.T. Barnum famously quipped, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Let’s prove him, and the Democrats selling socialism, wrong.
Hal Scherz, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), is a founder and the board secretary of Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation and president & managing partner at Georgia Urology.