The Boston Herald has just published a start analysis of the Medicare for All scheme that is at the center of the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Medicare for all, a term first coined by Warren’s fellow senator and rival for the Democratic nomination for the presidency Bernie Sanders, constitutes nothing less than a government takeover of the health care sector.
“Now that she’s finally released details on her Medicare-for-All plan and its eye-wincing $52 trillion projected price tag, there’s no way that 160 million Americans who like their healthcare plans — including labor unions — will want to see them made illegal.
“Nor will any rational citizen want to have critical health-care decisions being made by faceless government bureaucrats who will decide what doctor you can see, and what medical treatment or surgery you’re permitted to get — or not.”
The analysis notes that in Canada, whose health care system has been touted as a model for Medicare for all by Warren and Sanders, has one terrible, life-threatening feature. Canadians have to wait nearly nine weeks to see a general practitioner and another 11 weeks to see a specialist, 20 weeks is rather long to stay in line when one has cancer or some other life-threatening disease. The idea is that no one whose private insurance allows them to see the doctor immediately is going to sign on to a system that does that.
Several analyses hit Warren’s claim that she can pay for her version of Medicare for all while avoiding a middle-class tax increase. The New York Times notes that the candidate is somewhat cagey about how she proposes to finance the scheme. The day that the scheme was rolled out, Warren claimed that it would be financed through a variety of taxes on business and investments and a wealth tax. However, the day after she claimed that her tax package would only fall on the 600 plus billionaires who live in the United States, a clear contradiction.
The funding regime, designed to pay for the $20 trillion over ten years plus scheme, was too much, even for Warren’s Democratic rivals, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bernie Sanders trotted out an argument usually made by conservatives that the taxes on business would hurt job creation. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg joined in the criticism. Biden and Buttigieg are offering more modest health care proposals.
The Atlantic, citing studies performed by a variety of think tanks, including “the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, the conservative-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and the center-left Urban Institute,” suggest that Warren is low balling the cost of her Medicare for all scheme. They place the actual ten-year cost as ranging from $32 trillion to $34 trillion. Those estimates suggest that an $11 trillion to $14 trillion gap exists in Warren’s healthcare scheme that has to be made up in some way, likely increased taxes on the middle class. The estimate is still short of the $52 trillion that others have estimated the scheme would cost over ten years.
The analyses also suggest that Warren’s assumptions that payments to doctors and drug companies can be lowered to make savings do not take into account unintended effects. More doctors would be driven out of the medical profession. Fewer new drugs would come to the market. Canadian style health care rationing and waitlist would be an inevitable result.
Warren’s Medicare for all scheme would also cause a great many job losses in the health insurance industry. The candidate had a ready albeit eyebrow-raising answer to that, according to Fox News. “Some of the people currently working in health insurance will work in other parts of insurance — in life insurance, in auto insurance, in car insurance, some will work for Medicaid,” she said.
The idea that life insurance and auto insurance industries can absorb all of those displaced health insurance workers is dubious at best. Warren is not taking into account the disruption to the car insurance industry that is coming when self-driving cars become more prevalent.
Warren is counting on the prospect of “free health care” to entice voters to pull the lever for her. The Boston Herald is suggesting that voters will take one look at the details of the scheme and will give the candidate a hard pass.