...but they will probably not lose as much as they would have you believe. Insurance companies probably won't disappear, as many will continue to process claims for Medicare for All, as they do now for Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. Pharmaceutical companies may have smaller profits as drug prices are negotiated, but they will continue to innovate and profitably market their products in the US, just as they currently do in every other country in the world. Businesses that might see lower profits under Medicare for All would benefit when their employees can get the health care they need, enabling them to work more productively, free of anxiety and relief from the fear of financial devastation due to medical bills.
This is a difficult number to pin down, but estimates suggest that perhaps around 1.7 million clerical, sales, and marketing jobs may be lost. This sounds huge, but in our economy of over 150 million jobs, that's a small one-time number that should not affect the economy. It's equal to the number of employees fired EACH MONTH. And both Medicare for All bills before Congress call for "just transition" funds to help retrain and reemploy any displaced workers. Some economists predict that with more people starting new businesses once they're no longer "locked" to their current jobs by health insurance, there may be several new jobs created for each job lost in the insurance industry.
Insurance and pharmaceutical companies have joined with hospital associations to form the deceptively-named Partnership for America's HealthCare Future (PAHCF). They are spending millions of dollars in advertising and political lobbying in a desperate effort to prevent Medicare for All from becoming reality. Learn more about their tricks and methods from an ex-insurance company PR executive turned whistleblower, Wendell Potter.
But many others welcome it, as it would save them much of the 25% of their current budgets spent on insurance billing and administration. Some hospitals resist the idea of global budgeting, in which Medicare for All would pay them a set amount each month based on their historical costs, with a separate needs-based process for capital spending. But this would save many rural and safety net hospitals and bring a more sound financing system to all hospitals.
Our current system is already profoundly disruptive as insurers pull out of markets, leaving enrollees without coverage, and as people can't get or afford the care they need. We believe that Medicare for All will provide great peace of mind to nearly everyone, patients and providers, as the system becomes so much more rational and inclusive. Physicians should have several more hours each day to see patients that they now spend entering information into a computer designed more for insurance billing than patient care.
But now there's tremendous intrusion between doctors and patients by insurance companies as they limit care, tell patients which doctors and hospitals they can go to, and tell doctors when to discharge patients from hospitals. Medicare for All is not a government takeover of healthcare or socialized medicine. Doctors in countries with government-financed healthcare systems practice independently and run their own businesses. Doctors and patients report higher satisfaction with systems in other countries than in the US. There will be greater competition as doctors and hospitals compete to attract patients, rather than insurance companies competing with employers.
They say everyone should pay for their own health care, that healthcare is not a right. That might be fine if everyone could, but it's not that simple. We pay for our military, roads, schools, fire and police protection which we share with those who can't pay for these public goods. Right now we pay for the unavoidable care that the uninsured get in emergency rooms, the most expensive place to receive treatment. It just makes sense for everyone to have healthcare insurance, which will make for a healthier and more productive populace. There will be less job absenteeism, and better mental health care may lead to fewer opioid deaths and suicides.
Right now in the US we ration healthcare more severely than any other country - by ability to pay, rather than medical need. For those without insurance, waiting times for elective care are infinite. Desperate uninsured patients crowd our Emergency Rooms - the most expensive place to seek care - because they have no access to continuous primary care. Rationing and waiting times are functions of the amount of money appropriated for healthcare, and in some less-wealthy countries, there's not enough to avoid these problems. But as we have seen, we currently spend much more than will be needed to provide medically-necessary care in a timely fashion to all Americans. Rationing and waiting times should not be a problem in a well-designed Medicare for All system.