Frequently asked questions

Why should I care about Medicare for All?

I have good health insurance; my family and I are covered.

You may now, but what if you lost it, by losing your job, or if your carrier left your market? What if your deductibles and copays become unaffordable? Some 60M workers change jobs every year, either losing or changing their insurance coverage in the process.

You may find that your insurance restricts you to narrow networks of physicians and hospitals and requires greater cost-sharing in deductibles and co-pays. You may not be as well-covered as you think. Do you have enough savings to cover your deductibles and copays now? Most Americans don’t

Why should I pay for insurance I don’t want?

Why should the rest of us pay for the care you would receive if you were injured or became ill? Can you guarantee you won’t get cancer or diabetes, or be involved in a car wreck?

We all pay taxes for military, fire, and police protection, which we hope we won't ever need; why not health insurance? If we all pay our fair share, medical care will be there for everyone when it’s needed, and the country will be healthier and more productive, and save billions of dollars.

Aren’t most poor health outcomes a result of people’s bad choices and habits?

Some outcomes are related to personal health habits, but not all. Our personal health habits, other than those contributing to obesity, are actually better than those in most developed countries which have better health outcomes than we do. Many outcomes are related to factors beyond an individual's control, such as housing, access to healthy food, and genetics. And for those factors that are related to personal health habits, a doctor can help people make lifestyle changes, but only if the person has access to that care. 

With free health care, won’t people abuse the system?

First, it’s not free. Everyone will pay for it, just as with military, fire, and police protections. People generally don’t abuse those systems.

That has not been the experience in other countries, nor did that happen here when Medicare began. With access to preventive care programs, people may need less health care that is also less expensive later.

Many uninsured people are already getting health care, often in expensive ERs, that the rest of us are already paying for indirectly. So the increase in utilization may not be as great as you might think.

Won’t there by long waiting lines and rationing like in Canada?

There's no reason why we should have rationing or waiting lines here with Medicare for All. While Canada may have some lines for elective surgery, just as we do, they have no lines for urgent treatment. Rumors of Canadians coming to the U.S. in droves for needed care are just that - rumors. Many people from the U.S., including Senator Rand Paul, go to Canada and other countries for less expensive care and to buy their prescription drugs.

What about a public option, to give people more choice?

Adding a public option to our present inefficient, complex system would simply add one more plan, with its administrative cost, without reaping any of the savings available by streamlining into an efficient single-payer system.

While a public option would be a way to expand coverage, it would only expand coverage to a small portion of the population. It’s also expensive and most proposals are regressively financed. These proposals also risk "cherry picking" low-cost young and healthy enrollees by private insurers, driving up the cost of the public option. Public option and buy-in proposals don't have the cost-containment mechanisms present in single payer, such as reduced administrative costs, negotiated drug pricing, global budgets, capital budgets and health planning.

The only choices that most people want are of physicians and hospitals, not which restrictive plan they use. Given free choice of providers with no out-of-pocket costs, a recent poll showed that a majority of Americans would trade their employer-provided plan for Medicare for All.

Won’t drug companies stop doing research if their profits are cut?

Most pharmaceutical research is paid for by government grants and institutions, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Drug companies spend more money developing “me too” drugs, chemically slightly different but with the same effects as established drugs, which they can patent and market at whatever cost they choose. This contributes to an enormous portion of the excess cost in our current system. Brisk pharmaceutical research will continue, but drug companies will no longer be able to gouge the public, as the government will negotiate prices as in every other country.

Will this cover undocumented immigrants?

Both bills propose to cover all individuals residing in the United States, regardless of documentation status. Not including everyone exposes others to communicable diseases that undocumented immigrants may bring with them. It will be less expensive to cover everyone than it would be to deal with preventable epidemics.

If certain classes of U.S. residents were not included, they would still access necessary healthcare in more expensive settings, such as ERs, that the rest of us pay for in higher premiums another costs. 

Undocumented immigrants contribute more to Social Security and Medicare through payroll and other taxes than they take out.

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