Years of double-digit increases in health care costs are devastating business, federal, state and family budgets. While the United States pays more per capita for health care than any other advanced country, 44 million people lack assured care.
“Most people overlook the most affordable way to achieve universal coverage; putting all of us under the Medicare umbrella,” says Merton C. Bernstein, a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Coles Professor of Law Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis. “That single-payer system would reduce non-benefit spending by doctors, hospitals, clinics, laboratories and health care insurers by about $300 billion a year, providing funds to insure everyone without additional outlays.”
“Medicare-for-All would make liability insurance medical care coverage unnecessary,” Bernstein says. “Their share of the premium would be better spent on mental health services as well as dental, vision and hearing care.”
Bernstein notes that thousands of people most concerned with patient care — physicians, medical students, nurses and unions representing non-professionals — endorse a single-payer approach.
“Business and state and local governments should embrace Medicare-for-All because it would rein in their costs,” he says. “It would relieve providers of the distractions and overhead required to process billions of claims. The present course promises only higher costs and little progress but builds pressure for more regulation, significant cuts, or a government takeover.
“Other savings measures could supplement Medicare-for-All,” Bernstein says. “Only a single-payer plan enables savings on a scale sufficient to make universal coverage feasible. And as with Medicare today, patients would choose their own doctors — the choice most of us cherish and that private insurance often limits.”