'Medicare for All' loses luster when costs considered

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“What’s in a name,” Juliet asked in Shakespeare’s play, but like the Capulets and Montagues, labels like Obamacare and Medicare carry meaning with critical consequences.

That’s probably why Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing “Medicare for All” instead of calling it “Canada-style Single Payer” healthcare.

Medicare is familiar to all of us, our parents and grandparents used it if we’re not covered by it ourselves, but “single payer” is a mysterious term to most of us.

Sanders claims 50 percent of us support such a single-payer system, which would have the government pay for coverage now financed by a mix of employers and employees, public plans and private individuals.

But a Fact Check article by the Associated Press reminds us of a short interview with a clueless millennial just as costs of the Affordable Care Act were kicking in — “Why should I pay for something I don’t need?”

Support for “Medicare for All” drops off sharply once increased costs are factored in.

The Fact Check piece cited a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in July that found, while 53 percent favored all Americans getting their health insurance from the government, 43 percent opposed that idea.

Add in higher taxes, and 60 percent of people opposed a single-payer system, and opposition increased when respondents were told that the new plan would replace Obamacare entirely.

An AP-NORC Center survey found 39 percent against a single-payer plan, and 38 in favor, and even less support once the idea of increased federal spending was included.

Other polling indicates that while 60 percent of Americans think the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all, nearly an equal portion are against raising taxes to accomplish that.

While Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare earlier this summer, they’re rounding up 50 votes to try to pass a new proposal before Senate rules change after Sept. 30, when 60 votes will be needed.

The latest plan would cap Medicaid spending and redistribute funding to states like Nebraska, which did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

The Canadian system, often held up as an example, has no guarantee of federal support, each province running and funding its own healthcare system under nationwide guidelines. That would be sure to be an issue in small states like Nebraska, should such a system be adopted here.

Even there, Canadians pay for 30 percent of their healthcare out of pocket, for things such as dental, vision, drugs and long-term care.

Should the Republicans succeed in repealing Obamacare — or even if they don’t — Americans are sure to be confronting the healthcare question on more than just a hypothetical, academic basis.

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  • I have had the opportunity to visit with hundreds of Canadians over the years. The first question I ask is whether or not they are satisfied with their healthcare. I know that is not scientific, but wouldn't you expect that I would have found one that was unhappy? So, I guess I have a different opinion on that. I shall be eagerly awaiting future columns that deal with the various countries that are actively trying to replicate our system.

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Thu, Sep 21, 2017, at 7:11 AM
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