What actual Medicare for all would mean

This morning I heard a commentator refer to Medicare for All (MFA), a plan supported by many Democrats in Congress, as a system with no premiums and no co-pays. And the fact is that this is probably what most people, especially younger people who are not actually on Medicare, think MFA would mean. But if this is what the left actually means when they use the term, then, while it might be for all, it ain’t Medicare.

My guess is that almost no one, left or right, who is advocating for MFA probably would prefer it to their current employer provided plan. Two things that Medicare is not, is zero premium and zero co-pay. The fact is that Medicare for all would mean that everyone would have to be put into a system where they pay, out of their pocket, anywhere from $150 to $460 a month in premiums, depending on their income. And no c0-pays? Well, try again. Everyone would have to pay 20 percent of every bill. Medicare only pays 80 percent. And oh yeah, there’s a deductible of $183 that everyone must pay before Medicare will pay dollar one–or 80 cents of dollar one.

And what if you want the 20 percent that Medicare doesn’t pay to be covered? Well, then you have to sift through the myriad of medigap plans being offered by scores of private companies. Do you want an Advantage Plan or a supplement? If you want the former should it be an HMO or a PPO? And which company will you buy it from and at what rates. And if you prefer a supplement then you can choose from plan C, F, F high deductible, G, K, L, M or N. And if it’s prescription drugs you want covered, because Medicare doesn’t cover them at all, that’s a plan D. Of course, again, there are scores of companies to choose from offering all of these plans.

I think word needs to go out that Medicare for all would mean putting all American citizens into the crazy system described above. I’m curious, is this the system that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants for herself?

Roy Cordato / Senior Economist and Resident Scholar

Roy Cordato is Senior Economist and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation. From January 2001 to March 2017, he held the position of Vice President for Research at the ...

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