Most Democratic members of the United States Congress now support a bill to make Medicare available for everyone, which would at long last create a single-payer health insurance system in America, a concept that has been instituted in almost every other developed country in the world.
The American public, for the most part, also supports the idea:
A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans support Medicare for all.
Yet, there are still some skeptics out there. So, here is a handy guide to help you speak to a skeptic about the idea.
Skeptical argument 1: Single-payer healthcare will cost too much.
How to respond: The current privatized American system actually costs more. Almost every other country that currently has single-payer healthcare spends less per capita than America does. The reason is that the current American system spends a huge amount of money on paying a middle man: private health insurance companies. That money goes toward administration and shareholder profits. If a good portion of that cost is taken out of the equation, the cost of health care as a whole will actually go down.
Skeptical argument 2: It will cause my taxes to skyrocket.
How to respond: Yes, taxes will go up. But because the overall cost will go down, taxes will actually go up less than the amount that will be saved by not having to pay health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. It will net out to be a savings for most people.
Skeptical argument 3: I will be paying taxes for other people to receive health care.
How to respond: That is how insurance works. Insurance is a system of pooling money so that when somebody needs to be covered, they don’t have to pay the full cost. When you pay premiums for insurance, you are already paying for other people’s health care.
Skeptical argument 4: It will bankrupt the country.
How to respond: It will actually save the country money as a whole, especially private businesses, who currently spend trillions on employer based health care plans. That will actually free up money that can be used for other things. It will do the opposite of bankrupting the country. It will improve the country’s financial situation, just as a company or individual’s financial situation is improved when an unnecessary expense is removed.
Skeptical argument 5: The quality of health care will go down.
How to respond: Most countries with single-payer healthcare have the same, if not better, quality health care as what is currently available in the United States. In addition, because of the many competing health insurance companies that currently operate in the United States, there have been networks of doctors created, and many people are only able to see doctors within their insurance company’s network, or pay much more to see a doctor out of network. With single-payer healthcare, insurance networks will be all but eliminated. Patients will be able to visit any doctor they want, and stay with that doctor, even if they switch jobs, unlike now where a job switch can often mean a new insurance provider and new doctor network.
Skeptical argument 6: Wait times to see a doctor will go up.
How to respond: Most countries with single-payer health care have comparable wait times, if not better, than what is currently experienced in the United States. Similar to argument 5, the near elimination of insurance networks will allow patients to have more choice in doctors.
Skeptical argument 7: It will eliminate competition.
How to respond: Single-payer healthcare will only eliminate competition between insurance companies: the middle men. The competition currently present in the American system hasn’t exactly fostered incredible efficiencies within the insurance company industry anyways, as they have been able to profit not through innovation, and not through controlling costs, but rather through actuarial means: charging people more and denying coverage. Conversely, the near elimination of insurance networks would actually foster more competition from health care providers, which would do far more to improve outcomes for patients.
Skeptical argument 8: The government can’t be trusted to administer a huge system like that efficiently.
How to respond: The government already administers the current Medicare system much more efficiently than the private insurance system is administered. The government would not be providing the actual health care, they would just be managing the payments for the health care, something they already do with the current Medicare system.
Some additional points to consider about Medicare for All:
- Medicaid could be eliminated. There would be no need for it. Any incentives people might currently have to stay on Medicaid, such as not making additional money, could also be eliminated. Also, the taxes that currently pay for Medicaid could be eliminated.
- It would free up administrative costs for health care providers who currently devote enormous amounts of time and money to navigate the system of reimbursement from multiple private insurance companies.
- It would free up the ability for doctors to prescribe treatments without having to first find out if a private insurance company will reimburse for that particular treatment.
- It would virtually eliminate personal bankruptcies from medical bills, which act as a kind of free-rider on the current system. If someone declares bankruptcy because they can’t pay their medical bills, that often means the bills go unpaid. Everyone else ends up paying for those unpaid bills. In addition, bankruptcy filings incur litigation costs that could virtually be eliminated from the move to single-payer healthcare.
- It would encourage entrepreneurship. Individuals will not be discouraged from becoming an entrepreneur due to worries about losing their employer based health care plan. In addition, small businesses would not have to worry about the burdensome expense of covering a small business health care plan for their employees.
- It would level the playing field for large American companies, who currently have a large health insurance expense, so that they can better compete with international companies, who do not have a large health insurance expense.
- It would improve the amount of preventative care, which in the long run saves money and leads to better health outcomes, as patients would no longer be deterred from seeking preventative care due to deductible or co-pay costs.