While in theory the plan sounds solid, but falls apart in its specifics.
Over the past week, many have started to discuss Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan. In the plan he attests that Americans would get not only better healthcare than they do now, but also cheaper healthcare in the long run. So how does it work? Or the bigger question, does it even work? Let’s dive in deeper with our 10-Point expert!
Point 1: For those that don’t know, single-payer health insurance (or aka Medicare-for-All) is a system where a public agency organizes healthcare financing, but the delivering of care comes from mostly private agencies. Under this plan all healthcare practices – even some that most insurances don’t cover like dental and specialist care – would be covered under the single-payer program. This is the health insurance program Bernie Sanders promises to push if he were elected president.
Point 2: While the single-payer plan does sound amazing, the question everyone has is the same…
For many people, including the GOP and Clinton campaigns, they question where the money for a single-payer program would come from.
Point 3: Recently the Sanders campaign unveiled their plan in how they would actually pay for the single-payer system. They estimate it would require an additional $1.38 trillion a year (!!!), which would cost the government about $14 trillion over a decade! This is ridiculously high by any stretch of the imagination. How Sanders plans to pay for this would be to specifically raise taxes on the “rich” (families making over $250,000) and through general administrative efficiency measures.
Point 4: Specifically how the Sanders single-payer healthcare plan would finance the extra $1.38 trillion a year breaks down like this:
- New tax laws that specifically target businesses would be added. Including a 6.2% payroll tax put on employers.
Financial investors would be hit hard with the tax laws taxing investment income the same rate as they tax wage income (which raises it from around 23% to over 50%).
Finally the wealthiest of Americans would be hit the hardest with increases on top income tax rates (families making $250,000 or more), raising the estate tax to 65%, and capping tax deductions to the wealthy at 28%.
Also it’s important to note that in Sanders’ plan, there would be a 2.2% flat tax on all “taxable income” as well as an end to the tax exclusion for employer-based health insurance (which to be fair, the last point would be unnecessary in a single-payer system).
Point 5: The Clinton campaign, of course, is challenging this claim. They are stating that Sanders’ single-payer plan would raise taxes on the middle-class. Which to be fair, they are technically right. (More on that in a bit.)
Point 6: Not surprisingly, Republicans also hate the plan claiming that it creates more federal government intrusion in the healthcare process – even more so than the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) – and would force states to opt into a national healthcare system. To go even further, they aren’t too thrilled by how much financial burden a single-payer system would add to the overall cost of government spending.
Point 7: While there is no doubt Sanders’ single-payer plan would cost more than the current healthcare system, his campaign continues to insist that in actuality, his single-payer system would save more money over time for both businesses and individuals in the program. Essentially Sanders campaign says that the taxes we pay for a single-payer system would be off-set over time by the savings we get through not having to pay for healthcare premiums that we endure now.
Pont 8: To back this claim, the Sanders campaign commissioned Gerald Friedman – an economist from the University of Massachusetts – to give his thoughts on the plan. Friedman found that the average family of four with a $50,000 income would pay only $466 on the 2.2% flat tax and save over $5,000 over time with the single-payer plan.
Point 9: Still there are many unanswered questions and major concerns revolving around Sanders’ single-payer system. The idea that Sanders is promising that his healthcare plan would cover everything and cost nothing is a bit disingenuous. Even though the Sanders campaign continues to refer to the 2.2% flat tax as a “healthcare premium”, in reality it’s a tax on anyone who earns a taxable income. Calling it a “healthcare premium” is just arguing semantics. Also there are still major questions regarding to what the plan actually covers, considering cornerstones of the US Medicare system like non-deductibles or co-payments would not be part of Sanders’ plan.
Point 10: It’s not far off to say Sanders’ single-payer system mirrors many healthcare services in Europe. Yet the biggest concerns come in the specifics of his plan, particularly understanding what is actually covered and how to pay for it. Because while pointing at healthcare systems in Europe and saying “see they’re doing it, why not us” might sound wise, it’s also important to remember that Europe pays for these services through a more broadened economic tax structure. The amount of taxes being burdened on the rich through Sanders’ single-payer plan would be unprecedented. Implementing the plan would be charting unknown waters in regards to economic policy.
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