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Frequently Asked Questions about Medicare for All

As the 2020 presidential race ramps up, you may start hearing more and more about Medicare for All. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you stay informed.

What is Medicare for All?

The Medicare for All bill is legislation to pass single-payer healthcare in the United States. Single-payer healthcare is a system in which the public pays taxes toward the healthcare system and pays very little money out of pocket for medical costs.

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Who started Medicare for All?

The first person to introduce a Medicare for All bill was former Representative John Conyers (D-MI) in 2003. Medicare for All gained national attention during the 2016 presidential race when Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made it a cornerstone of his platform.

The House of Representatives released their official Medicare for All bill earlier this year, spearheaded by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). The bill gained more than 100 cosponsors before it was officially presented on the House floor.

What would the bill accomplish?

The official Medicare for All bill would:

  • Create a single-payer, government-funded healthcare system
  • Abolish the age restrictions for Medicare
  • Cover every American within two years
  • Eliminate beneficiaries’ copays, premiums, and deductibles
  • Cover prescription drugs, vision, dental, mental health, substance abuse, and maternal care
  • Provide long-term coverage for people with disabilities

Who would qualify for Medicare for All?

As it currently stands, Medicare covers all Americans over the age of 65 as well as some people under 65 with disabilities.

Medicare for All would cover every single American, but some bills differ in how it would be executed. For example, Sanders’s bill would drop the age of eligibility by 10 years every year for four years until everyone is the country is covered. Some bills would drop the age of eligibility to 50, while others would create a Medicare buy-in option where anyone could purchase a Medicare plan.

How would Medicare for All be paid for?

One of the biggest concerns about Medicare for All is that it would raise taxes. While the truth is that a single-payer system will raise taxes, it could still end up saving taxpayers hundreds to thousands of dollars per year.

For example, Sanders advocates for tax redistribution, which means taking money Americans are already paying for healthcare, and funnelling it into a healthcare system that does away with premiums, copays, and deductibles. In other words, taxes would be a bit higher, but overall out-of-pocket spending could be reduced significantly.

How expensive is Medicare for All?

A 2018 survey funded by the Koch brothers sought to prove Medicare for All would be a financial burden to taxpayers. However, researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that a single-payer healthcare system would actually save taxpayers about $16 trillion.

The current American healthcare system is expected to cost taxpayers around $49 trillion over the next decade, whereas Medicare for All would cost about $32 trillion.

How would Medicare for All save taxpayers money?

  • Administrative expenses. By cutting down on administrative costs, which account for 25 percent of healthcare costs in the United States, the bill would save $8.3 trillion over 10 years.
  • Drug prices. If the secretary of Health and Human Services were empowered to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, it could save taxpayers $1.7 trillion.
  • Premiums and deductibles. Taxes will go up slightly under this plan, but premiums and deductibles would be a thing of the past and directly save taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
  • Wages. When premiums are not deducted from paychecks, workers’ net wages will increase.
  • Medicaid. The bill would also free up billions of dollars that states spend on Medicaid each year.

Who opposes Medicare for All?

Many large healthcare-industry lobbying groups oppose Medicare for All, including those who represent private insurance companies, labor unions, hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies.

Their reasons for not supporting the bill include:

  • A drastic, fundamental change to the healthcare industry the country knows
  • Loss of jobs for current insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical industry workers
  • Tax hikes
  • Reduced innovation for medicine and medical technology
  • People who like their private plans would be forced to switch

Who supports Medicare for All?

According to a poll from Reuters, around 70 percent of all Americans support some version of Medicare for All. This includes 84 percent of Democrats as well as 52 percent of all Republicans polled.

Of the Democrats running for president in 2020, those who support Medicare for All include:

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
  • Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
  • Author Marianne Williamson
  • Former tech executive and founder of Venture for America Andrew Yang

New information about Medicare for All hits headlines every week, including official House hearings for the legislation. Follow us on Facebook for more updates about this bill.

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