Politically speaking, Medicare for All is a hot button topic that is dominating headlines right now. Democrats like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are campaigning against it, instead pushing the same affordable Medicare insurance the US has always offered.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, however, believe that Medicare for All is truly the future of the US healthcare system and think Medicare enrollment needs to change.
So what’s the actual deal with Medicare for All, Medigap insurance, and how does it work? Let’s go over some facts.
The Medicare for All plan is a bill proposed by some Democrats that would provide a single, full coverage health insurance plan to every American in the United States. This isn’t like the affordable Medicare insurance you’re used to or a Medicare enrollment plan, but an expansive single program.
The transition would happen over the course of four years, and at the end of those four years, everyone would be moved to the same coverage provided by the government, with no need for Medigap insurance or other supplemental plans.
The “idea” of this is to force doctors and hospitals to accept the Medicare for All plan, which means any American could go to any doctor or hospital for any procedure without worrying about their insurance covering it.
Unlike affordable Medicare insurance now, expensive ‘add-ons’ that were only available through supplement insurance would also be covered, like in-home care, hearing aids, dental visits and more.
The goal is basically to get Americans health insurance that lets them see a doctor when they first become ill, without costing them an obscene amount of money, and to help prevent serious illnesses.
Those who support the traditional affordable Medicare insurance plans with Medigap insurance instead of Medicare for All argue that covering every American would be outrageously expensive. And they’re not wrong, necessarily.
While each candidate has a different “plan,” it is estimated that Bernie Sanders plan for Medicare for All would increase federal spending by about $34 trillion over 10 years. Elizabeth Warren’s plan would increase spending by $20.5.
Both candidates have now released their roadmap to afford this, which includes increasing taxes on those who make more money, reducing spending in certain areas (Bernie recently said he would reduce military spending), and stronger enforcement of tax laws that already exist.
The hope is that covering every American and forcing all doctors to accept patients would actually decrease the cost of some procedures and visits, lowering the overall cost of treatments.
In short, yes: Medicare for All would mean the end of private insurance, traditional Medicare enrollment and the normal affordable Medicare insurance you’re used to. Medicare for All isn’t just “the same Medicare coverage, but for everyone.” It is more expansive and significantly cheaper.
Medigap insurance, Medicare Advantage, traditional Medicare enrollment… all a thing of the past if Medicare for All is introduced and passed.
Expect to hear a lot more details about the candidate’s plans in the coming months. While Medicare for All is popular (about 51% of Americans support it in theory), there’s no real data to show how such a system would actually work in practice.
Even if the Medicare for All bill passed tomorrow, it would take years to successfully implement. It’s important to stay informed, but it’s a little early to be planning.