One would hope we could move away from failed healthcare overhauls and finally do something productive with our government. That seems to be a pipe dream. Bernie Sanders has championed yet another single-payer healthcare bill and put it before Congress. It has virtually no chance of passing, but it will once again rile the left and keep them from forgetting one of the worst ideas they seem to love.
This particular proposal has its own subtleties. The basic idea is to expand and reform Medicare to cover everyone residing in the U.S. (yes, this includes illegal immigrants). The bill suggests a four-year progressive movement towards single payer. Children and seniors will receive coverage first, and the rest will be gradually added over that time span.
The bill offers no payment plan to cover the costs, but it recommends a myriad of revenue schemes that all boil down to heavy taxes on businesses, the middle class and the wealth. The other aspect of this proposal that separates it is the level of support behind it. A full 16 Democratic Senators have endorsed the bill. This is still a far cry short of getting it passed, but it is now the most popular single-payer suggestion in the history of Congress.
We’ll hold off on the concept of single-payer systems for now and discuss specific problems with this plan. Unsurprisingly, the biggest problem is money. Sanders didn’t bother to actually estimate the total spending cost of his new pet (undoubtedly to help its popularity), but conservative estimates put the initial four-year spending around $12 trillion. This would fall just short of doubling the current U.S. federal budget.
Another problem unique to the bill is the absence of private insurance opt-outs. Every established single-payer system still allows individuals and employers to elect to pay for a private insurance option. This reduces the burden on single-payer healthcare providers and combats destructive weight times. Sweden, for instance, incorporated private insurance alternatives back in the 90s when companies had to fire employers for getting sick or injured because casual healthcare procedures were regularly exceeding six-month wait times. There is no question that any single-payer plan will fail without the support of private insurance.
The Bigger Picture
Even where single-payer systems have the illusion of success, they are largely problematic. There are innumerable reasons why, but the chief issue is supply and demand. In every case, plans offer to pay for everyone to access the healthcare system without investing in healthcare infrastructure.
They want to let capitalist principles of supply and demand fix a socialist structure, and it never works. The system we have in place right now can’t handle the influx of patients that would stem from Sanders’ plan, and the result would be deadly wait times and massive increases of mistakes.
Just implementing Obamacare stretched our system so thin that life expectancy has dropped across the board. Every single American (even those who don’t participate in our health care) is worse off because of Obamacare. No matter your income, lifestyle or where you live in the country, if you reside in the U.S., then Obamacare has shaved years off of your life. This mostly boils down to supply and demand, and Bernie’s plan pushes it to historically unprecedented extremes.
For the sake of thoroughness, we’ll go ahead and rehash the greatest hits of why single-payer is a bad idea. It increases wait times. Sweden has the best wait times of any single-payer system in the world and it takes an average of six months or longer to receive any kind of specialized care. While they do a poor job of tracking the statistics, the death tolls from wait times alone are at least six times greater than anything seen in the U.S.
Single payer is bad for the economy. You already know this, but when you eliminate free market principles and jack up taxes across the board, you eliminate revenue that could otherwise be productive. Every country that has ever switched to single-payer systems has seen an immediate and long lasting drop in GDP growth. The U.S. has more to lose on this front than anyone.
Finally, single-payer health care puts your life in the government’s hands. It really is all about more control, and it is a strong and typically irreversible move towards total socialism. Sanders has repeatedly admitted that he is a socialist. No matter how he tries to dress the terminology, his ultimate goal in politics is the total consolidation of economic and political power.
He seems to conveniently avoid mentioning that he is one of the most powerful politicians in the world. No matter how you slice it, power will always appeal to the corrupt. When you forcefully split economic and political power (which is the whole point of capitalism), you limit the proliferation of any one group’s bad decisions. When you consolidate power the way Bernie wants, you get Stalin and Zedong. Every. Time.
~ American Liberty Report