Medicare for All FAQs
Why should I care about Medicare for All? I have good health insurance; my family and I are covered.
You may now, but what if you lost your job, or your employer stopped providing it? What if your deductibles and copays become unaffordable? Your insurance may restrict you to narrow provider networks. Do you have enough savings to cover your deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs? Most Americans don’t.
If we have free health care, won’t people abuse the system and overwhelm doctors?
First, it’s not free. Everyone will pay for it, just as with military, fire, and police protections. People generally don’t abuse those systems. Overuse has not happened in other countries, nor did that happen here when Medicare began. Many uninsured people get health care in expensive ERs that the rest of us pay for indirectly.
Won’t there by long waiting lines and rationing?
Some countries with single-payer systems do not have waiting lists. And where there are waits, they are only for elective, not urgent, needs. In the US, we already ration care, but in the most irrational and cruel way – based on the ability to pay, not medical need. Many people here go without necessary care indefinitely.
What about a public option, to give people their choice?
The choice that people want is choice of physicians and hospitals, not choice of which plan they use. Adding a public option to our present inefficient, complex system would simply add one more plan and its administrative cost without reaping any of the savings available by streamlining into an efficient single-payer system.
Won’t this be very disruptive, suddenly throwing two million insurance employees out of work?
Progress often results in the extinction of certain industries - think about film manufacturing and processing, typewriter manufacturing. Unlike in those cases, Medicare for All as written in the current Congressional bills will provide severance, education, and other funds for transitioning insurance employees into new jobs, and many will be needed in a larger Medicare for All system. The jobs that may be lost are probably fewer than the number of U.S. employees fired every month. Losing some clerical insurance jobs will not negatively affect employment numbers or the economy.
Isn’t a free market always better?
The free market hasn’t worked for health care. It has led to our paying the world’s highest prices for prescription drugs. Shopping for lowest-priced care is impossible when one is sick or injured. We are the only industrialized country that hasn’t adopted a national health program to protect and improve its citizens’ health.
Why shouldn’t patients have “skin in the game” and pay for some of their care, to avoid abusing the system?
Having “skin in the game” mainly causes people to delay or not seek needed care. Any hurdle to getting appropriate care at the right time results in people requiring more expensive care down the line at greater cost and dying unnecessarily.
Won’t drug companies stop doing research if their profits are cut?
Most pharmaceutical research is paid for by government grants and institutions, like the National Institutes of Health. Drug companies spend more money developing “me too” drugs, chemically slightly different but with the same effects as established drugs, which they can patent and market at whatever cost they choose. Brisk pharmaceutical research will continue, but the government will negotiate prices like in every other country.
Isn’t U.S. health care the best in the world?
Not according to any of the studies measuring this across countries - we aren't even in the top 10. We have many great doctors and hospitals, but millions do not get basic levels of care. We lag behind most developed countries in most outcome measures, including infant & maternal mortality and life expectancy. Our system is unnecessarily complex and inefficient, resulting in dramatically high costs that deter Americans from going to the doctor when they should.
I think healthcare is a privilege to be earned, not a right.
We don’t need to get bogged down arguing that ideological point. It’s just common sense – Medicare for All will strengthen the nation, improve productivity, eliminate waste, and save money, among many other benefits.
Isn’t this a government takeover of health care? Socialized medicine? No. In socialized medicine, providers of health care are employed by government, and all facilities – hospitals and doctor’s offices – owned by government. Medicare for All will only consolidate and streamline the payment side, saving hundreds of billions wasted in administrative overhead by hundreds of for-profit insurance companies. Medicare for All will be public payment, with private delivery.