Yes, Medicare for All Would be Good for the Economy, too.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Bernie Sanders during his 2016 Presidential Campaign, the topic of getting healthcare coverage for all Americans became an issue at the forefront of the Democrat’s political philosophy. It evolved from what the establishment viewed as a fringe, radical view into a litmus test of sorts for those wishing to brand themselves as a Democrat. Freshman “Justice Democrats” such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib further popularized the idea of health insurance for all Americans, expressing their outspoken view shared with Senator Sanders that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
A Medicare for All system like the one that Bernie has written in to legislation would ensure full coverage with no more deductibles, premiums, lifetime caps, and employers would no longer be offering healthcare plans. Today centrist Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi are quick to claim the label of progressive, while at the same time cautioning the public with right wing talking points about what a system like Medicare for All would cost.
While it is true that there is no concrete number on the price tag for Medicare for All yet, all it takes is a google search to discover that even the most conservative studies and estimates have found that it would save the public billions, potentially trillions of dollars over the course of ten years. Even putting that aside, we must consider the overwhelming growth a plan like Medicare for All would instill in the economy.
Today, millions of Americans have health insurance through their employer, putting them in a situation where they are bound to an employer because they are afraid of what might happen if they quit and get sick before their benefits with a new employer kick in. For families, a parent could not only lose their insurance but insurance for their child as well. The costs of something typical such as insulin alone might be enough to keep someone from quitting a job that they hate. A Medicare for All system could give countless people the ability to quit the job they hate without risk of losing their healthcare coverage. They would be able to move on to bigger and better things at a new company, or even start their own and employ others.
Of course, not all of us have the entrepreneurial mindset. Nevertheless, the money we save on out of pocket costs or paycheck deductions for healthcare is money going in to the economy that wasn’t going in before. Families may be able to take the vacations they’ve always wanted, or even just go down the street to eat at the new restaurant that just opened. Couples may be able to save for a downpayment on a house, or put money into savings accounts for a college fund so that their child can get a higher education and better paying job.
Freeing average Americans from the burden of paying crippling healthcare costs also ensures that people would be more inclined to take preventative measures when it comes to their health. Instead of waiting until they are very sick to seek treatment when it’s most expensive, people would be much more likely to go to their doctors for a check up when they know there will be no surprise costs sprung on them. While there is a valid concern that we may not have enough doctors to handle that situation right now, this can potentially be remedied by using the transition period to a Medicare for All system to train and prepare more doctors.
The reality is, there is no perfect system. Healthcare experts, economists, doctors, politicians, and pundits will continue to go back and forth debating the pros and cons of Medicare for All. But we live in a country with a healthcare system that is unsustainable. It is frankly dishonest to raise a flag about the cost of Medicare for All without acknowledging that Americans today are spending more out of pocket for healthcare costs than any other developed nation with universal coverage. While the rich might be upset to see their taxes increasing, that’s certainly no reason to ignore the thousands of Americans dying because they cannot afford to treat their diseases. Medicare for All would eliminate that ugly reality while at the same time allowing more people to contribute to the economy, and therefore deserves real, honest consideration.