As the nation geared up for the 2020 election, Democrats are promising bold new changes to the American health care system. One idea championed by many on the progressive left is “Medicare for All,” or a single-payer system, which would do away with private health insurance for most forms of care. Advocates of this plan promise that nationalizing health insurance will cut costs by reducing overhead and promote overall health by giving all Americans access to preventive health care. And in doing so, the United States will join the ranks of many other developed nations that have already mandated a national insurance program to guarantee medical care as a basic human right. Their opponents argue Medicare for All is a political non-starter that would force Americans off employer-based plans, reduce incentives for doctors and providers, increase bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the system, and lead to worse care overall, all the while inflating the already swelled federal deficit. Should private health insurance exist? Or is it time for Medicare for All? Arguing for the motion is Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program with Joseph Sanberg, co-founder of Aspiration and chair of CalEITC4Me. Arguing against the motion is Nick GIllespie, editor-at-large at Reason with Sally Pipes, CEO and president of Pacific Research Institute. John Donvan moderates. This conversation was taped on September 17, 2019.
· The United States government should follow the lead of other nations and guarantee affordable, accessible health care as a basic human right.
· A single-payer system would cut overhead costs by streamlining resources and make navigating the health care system easier for consumers.
· A Medicare for All system would alleviate the burden of having to navigate multiple private insurance plans, allowing providers to spend more time treating patients and improving the quality of their care.
· The current health care system has perverse incentives and a fee-for-service model. Private health insurance often still leaves patients with exorbitant bills.
· Individuals should have the freedom to choose how they manage their health, and only a free market will provide competitive options for health care consumers. Plus, according to recent polls, most workers are satisfied with their private, employer-sponsored coverage.
· Medicare for All is simply too expensive. Right now, the federal debt exceeds $22 trillion, and according to a range of economic assessments, Medicare for All promises to add trillions more.
· Under a single -payer program, physicians would likely receive less compensation, which could disincentivize practitioners and discourage future health care professionals from joining the field.
· If the bureaucratic mishandling of the Department of Veteran Affairs or United States Postal Service is any indication, the government should not be trusted with managing one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy.