At tonight’s debate, Bernie Sanders called for a radical Medicare for All, immediately banning private insurance for anything but cosmetic surgery. He argued that nearly every developed nation, including Canada and England, has functioning socialized medicine, and that it was insane that the United States does not. Further, he praised Medicare and expressed how satisfied people would be while on Medicare. Many of his fellow candidates supported Medicare for All, but most wanted a transitional period to excise private insurance from the market.
This radical policy that would ban any private insurance is a ridiculous idea that grossly misunderstands how socialized medicine actually occurs overseas and how Medicare is actually used in this country.
Despite what the candidates would have you believe, Medicare alone is not enough for most Americans. Nearly 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have supplemental insurance. The mere 23 percent who rely solely on Medicare face substantial out-of-pocket costs, as Medicare has no cap on these. The truth of most people’s experience on Medicare is that it is perfectly sufficient for basic health needs and minor issues, but, without supplemental insurance, beneficiaries are sunk should they face a serious illness.
Bernie, like many who support socialized medicine, pointed to England and Canada as healthcare utopias. Though neither country’s healthcare policies are anything to be admired, much less mimicked, they have become left’s favorite point of comparison, to a point of naive idealization.
Bernie romanticizes their guaranteed government healthcare. However, as Michael Bennet pointed out, the disparate costs have more to do with the population size than the system itself. The UK’s population is not even one-fifth of the United States’ 329.16 million, with Canada at just over one-tenth, so of course it costs less to provide healthcare to so fewer people.
Likewise, neither England nor Canada have adopted Bernie’s policy of banning private insurance, as was pointed out by Pete Buttigieg. In fact, 10.5 percent of the British population have opted to have private insurance, and a whopping 75 percent of Canadians have supplemental private insurance.
Even Bernie’s go-to comparisons fail to prove his point. Banning private insurance is a preposterous proposal that both would never work and makes absolutely no sense. Does anyone actually want the post office without the option of Fedex? Of course not, because even with a state-run option, the people want a private choice to use at their discretion. The last thing Americans should want are bureaucrats who will make decisions on every aspect of their health.