There is a lot of discussion about shutting down America’s health insurance companies and turning to a “Medicare for all” single-payer system. There are some legitimate arguments being made for it such as “economy of scale” and getting all Americans insured under one system. I would argue though, that as imperfect as our present health care system is, it is still one of the best in the world, and we should not turn health care in America over to politicians for a number of important reasons.
The first reason is that taxes for all Americans will need to rise dramatically. It is estimated that Medicare for all would cost an estimated $30 trillion over the next decade. That means it would cost in taxes for every man, woman and child in America an estimated $9,174 per year ($36,696 for a family of 4 each year). There are just not enough “rich” people to pay for it, so that hardly seems like a bargain to me.
The second reason is that all Democratic presidential candidates indicated at the debates that they want to cover all people living in the United States illegally. Since that number is over 10 million people now, that would increase costs even more. It would also create another magnet for illegal immigration so that number could be expected to be much higher.
The third reason is that politicians have already proven that they can’t run Social Security and Medicare correctly as it is. Citizens need to understand that Social Security will become insolvent in 15 years. Medicare is scheduled to become insolvent in 7 years. For these critical programs for our nations elderly to continue to pay out their promised benefits, it is going to take many more trillions of dollars of federal debt to bail these programs out. The national debt has already grown from 10 trillion dollars in 2009 to 22 trillion dollars today. These bills are going to eventually have to be paid with much higher taxes and a lower standard of living for all Americans.
The fourth reason why we should reject Medicare for all is it will create havoc in our medical profession. Medicare reimbursement rates are so low that here in Rhode Island we already have a major shortage of doctors in important specialties. Physicians in many cases couldn’t run their practices if they just had to rely on Medicare patients. That is just reality.
The fifth reason why we should reject Medicare for all is that the United States of America needs to have a strong military to keep peace in the world. I shudder to think of what the world would look like without America’s strong military. Medicare for all would consume defense spending. Entitlement spending already competes hard with our defense budget. Medicare for all would just blow our federal budget apart.
No, while Medicare for all is worth debating, when you get down in the weeds, the numbers just don’t work.
The writer is a former Westerly town councilor.