Estimates from the Urban Institute project that in 2020, the federal government will spend $732 billion on Medicare, $464 billion on Medicaid and CHIP, $60.4 billion on the health insurance marketplaces, and $27.5 billion to hospitals for uncompensated care. Households will spend $931 billion, employers will spend $955 billion, state governments will spend $285 billion on Medicaid and CHIP and $17.2 billion for uncompensated care, and providers will spend $24.1 billion.
We’re talking about an insane amount of money – honestly seems like Monopoly money to me.
Reigning in healthcare spending has to be a policy priority, it’s simply unsustainable. Medicare-for-All would shift most of the spending to the federal government, to the tune of $34 trillion over a decade.
Before we can evaluate any of the proposed plans to improve healthcare access and affordability, we have to understand some important terms without the lens of a 140 character limit or talking head on the morning news.
What is single payer?
A single public (government) agency takes responsibility for financing healthcare through public funding for all residents. Everyone has insurance under one health insurance plan and has access to necessary services, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. The term “single payer” is currently used interchangeably with Medicare-for-All but it could be used to describe Medicaid-for-All or any other sole type of insurance option that is financed by a singular entity.
What is Medicare-for-All?
Medicare-for-All would create a universal Medicare benefit that covers all American residents in one government-run health plan. Senators Sanders and Warren have both vocal on this issue on the campaign trail (Sen. Sanders has long championed it) but they offer different ways to pay for it.
A Medicare-for-All single payer system will raise federal spending but the overall amount of current health care spending will most likely not change much.
This is a bare-bones, basic definition. For more, I suggest starting with these articles: