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Bernie Sanders re-introduces the Medicare-For-All bill once again

Sen. Bernie Sanders is very well known for his socialist stances. One of his iconic trademark socialist stances is “Medicare-For-all,” which is a political slogan to promote the centralization of the American healthcare system. The slogan “Medicare For All” became a popularized political concept when Sen. Sanders ran for U.S. president in 2016. Since then, it has become his signature on policy proposals.

Medicare is the healthcare program owned by the U.S. government that provides health insurance and medical care to senior citizens. Thus, by using the word “Medicare,” Senator Sanders masterfully uses semantics and political rhetoric to make ordinary Americans sympathetic and in favor of his policy proposal. And the strategy has been working. According to a 2018 Reuters survey, 70% of Americans supported Medicare-For-All.

Senator Sanders argues that the U.S. healthcare system is broken as most Americans don’t have access to the most basic forms of medical care due to being uninsured. The current healthcare system, which is a hybrid system; a mixture of private and public health coverage; is a system in which healthcare for most Americans remains attached to employment. For Sen. Sanders, the inefficiency of the current system is due to the greed of the healthcare industry in which pharmaceutical companies and doctors would prioritize profits over the people’s medical needs. Therefore, what Sen. Sanders wants is for the United States to have a healthcare system in which Medicare will be extended to everyone, not just to senior citizens. He has repeatedly asserted that healthcare was a “right.” And since healthcare is a “right” in his eyes, every citizen is entitled to healthcare coverage regardless of the circumstances.

To be clear, Medicare-For-All is, in fact, the single-payer healthcare system. It means that it is a healthcare system in which the central government is the only provider. In such a system, the central government would administer healthcare funding and payments and expand coverage to every citizen regardless of their socioeconomic background. While this may sound nice and morally appealing, morality does not and cannot undermine economic laws. And this is because healthcare, as an industry that is part of the economy, is subjected to market forces like any other industry in our economy.

If the single-payer system was implemented, it would not improve the U.S. healthcare system. On the contrary, it would exacerbate it. It would make the system even more inefficient and more broken than it already is. It is important to understand that the laws of supply and demand are based on the principle of scarcity, which is the gap between limitless wants and limited resources. The single-payer system is not exempt from these laws.

The single-payer system will not work because politicians and government bureaucrats will not be able to allocate health resources efficiently due to an absence of a price system. Prices are precise signals used to determine the volume of production needed in an industry. Since there will be no price system under the single-payer system, the lack of prices will distort the knowledge required to determine the quantity of medical services that needs to be produced. Thus, the absence of prices in a single-payer system could result in a shortage of medical services, which would create long waiting lists to see a doctor and a shortage of doctors’ availability.

Shortages of medical services could lead to fatal outcomes as it could result in a surge in mortality rate because patients with urgent and chronic conditions will not necessarily be prioritized. Canada and the United Kingdom are two prime examples that highlight the inefficiencies of the single-payer system. In Canada, patients waited a record of 21.2 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist after being referred by their general practitioner. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Services (NHS), is very inefficient as well. In December 2022, 54,000 people in England had to wait more than 12 hours for an emergency admission. This has led to 1,474 (20%) more excess death in the week ending December 30 than the five-year average.

It is important to also understand that not paying out-of-pocket does not mean that people wouldn’t be paying at all. Ordinary Americans will have to pay through taxes. This means that the federal government will have to increase taxes to maintain the operations of the single-payer system. This will then lead to a reduced disposable income for the American taxpayers.

We all agree that the U.S. healthcare system needs to be restructured in a way that would benefit everyone. But implementing a single-payer system is not the solution to solve the issue. It will only worsen the healthcare system in the long-run. True; the intention is nice and genuine as it would be great to see everyone having health coverage, but the results will definitely not match the intentions of Sen. Sanders since the single-payer system cannot escape the laws of supply and demand. Good intentions don’t always lead to good outcomes, and in the case of Medicare-For-All, this phrase is valid.


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