medicare for all
Employee Benefits

Medicare for All

Beau Reid
Beau Reid
Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits

Former President Barack Obama has been stumping lately under the banner “Medicare for All.”

Let me give you a little hint: Medicare for All = Single-Payer Health System. These two terminologies represent exactly the same thing.

Medicare for all is polling better in all the public opinion polls. It just sounds better. The public doesn’t like the sound of a single-payer system. The public also doesn’t understand Medicare. At all. So when politicians start talking about Medicare for All, they are only taking advantage of the public’s awareness that Medicare taxes come out of their paycheck and the public’s fundamental lack of understanding of Medicare.

The issue is that Medicare is already underfunded. California and Colorado have recently attempted to add health coverage for all into their state. It was even on the ballot. Both times it failed. The real reason? Because there is no way to pay for this without raising taxes. In Colorado, it was projected to more than double the state’s budget. Meaning what? Doubling state taxes, that’s what. Politicians know that proposing big tax increases isn’t the pathway to election or reelection. Everyone wants free healthcare. They just want someone (anyone) to pay for it.

The Affordable Care Act mandated that large businesses must provide health insurance to their employees. The government needs that subsidization to continue. Medicare pays roughly 88 cents for a dollar of Medical care. Underpaying physicians and hospitals. Private, employer-sponsored plans make up that gap and then some.

So, if we acknowledge we can’t afford to provide Medicare for All without rationing care and dramatically increasing taxes, then what we arrive at is “Medicare for Everyone…EXCEPT YOU.”  Those of you who work for a business with more than 50 employees can forget about Medicare for you. What you CAN look forward to is your taxes rising considerably, AND continuing to pay premiums for your employer-sponsored plan. And with more people enrolled in Medicare, the cost shift to the private, employer-sponsored plans will continue their annually compounding double-digit premium increases.

And none of this addresses the issues that are causing the costs to run out of control. In most consumer businesses, the providers who are early to market enjoy larger profit margins. Then, as more competition enters the fray, the consumer, seeking the lowest price for that product, causes the product to drop in price. So why do healthcare and pharmacy continue to increase in cost exponentially? It’s obvious! Consumers don’t know what they’re paying. Medicare for All doesn’t solve that problem. It just shifts the money to the government, and costs will continue to skyrocket — leading to higher taxes.

Put your hands up — who wants Medicare for All (aka single-payer health insurance)? Hmm, no thanks!

We HAVE to create an insurance program that incentivizes the correct behavior. We HAVE to provide consumers with true transparency. We HAVE to provide them the ability to measure the quality of a provider. We HAVE to simplify the process.

At some point, I should be able to purchase healthcare under the same economic principles that I purchase any other consumer product. For example: If I buy a TV, I go online. I determine the make and model I want based upon consumer reviews and other quality standards. Then, I determine where I want to buy it based upon the price or terms of purchase (think no interest until next year). Then when I go to buy it, I swipe my credit card. The store gets paid, and I get a bill at the end of the month. Now, does the store have to collect a percentage of the cost from me? Does the store have to ask me to meet my deductible? Do I know what the store paid Samsung for the product?

We don’t need Medicare for All in the same system that still avoids transparency and competition. We need Medicare to pay a dollar for a dollar of medical costs. And we need to fix the way the consumer engages the medical marketplace.

We need to simplify this industry to the consumer before we go down the single-payer path. Otherwise, we simply shift the problem to the government without addressing the root cause of the problem.

Medicare for All, EXCEPT YOU.

And ME.

And anyone else who works for a large business.

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