Socialized Healthcare: Innate Right or Avoidable Wreck?

BY: JACK MORGENSTEIN

Note: All sources can be found at the bottom of this article

One of the biggest political debates today surrounds the issue of socialized healthcare, also known as medicare-for-all. With most major democratic candidates supporting the idea and most conservatives staunchly against it, the policy is guaranteed to be a major issue in the next presidential election. Before understanding the consequences of such a plan, what is socialized healthcare? Socialized healthcare, also known as single-payer health care or universalized healthcare, is a term for a policy in which the government would provide mandatory medical insurance for all its citizens through a mixture of taxation and subsidies. Many supporters claim that healthcare must be seen as a fundamental right and a socialized policy is the only way this right can be upheld. Research has shown a socialized policy is simply unimplementable as it is exorbitantly expensive.

According to the Washington Post, a single payer system would cost the US government $33 trillion by 2031. This number figures out to additional government spending of $2.8 trillion annually. It’s worth noting that the entire US budget in 2019 was $4.45 trillion. The establishment of medicare-for-all would increase the national budget by approximately 63%. This money can’t come from nowhere, and the sourcing of these funds is one of the biggest problems facing the plan. The most commonly cited plan is simply taking money from military/ defense spending. The main problem is that the US Military received less than $700 billion in 2019. If 100% of these funds went directly to funding medicare-for-all, it would foot less than a fourth of the annual bill. 

In order to implement a socialized medicare plan, there is no side stepping the fact a majority would need to be paid for through increased taxes. A common plan, and one spear headed by Elizabeth Warren, is simply raising taxes on the rich. A report from the bipartisan research organization CRFB found than even if the tax rate of the top two tax brackets was raised to 100% (which is by itself impossible) there still would not be nearly enough money to fund medicare-for-all. A study from the Mercatus Center found that even if all individual AND corporate taxes in the entire country were doubled, the funds would still be insufficient to reach 2.8 billion annually. Bernie Sanders, the politician who introduced the medicare-for-all bill, has stated that “It is appropriate to acknowledge taxes would go up.” So the question is raised: are all Americans prepared to face a significant tax hike? The answer is a resounding no. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of Americans felt their taxes were too high, 48% felt they were about right, 4% felt their taxes were too low, and 3% had no opinion. With stark statistics like this, the chance of any significant tax hike being passed is extremely unlikely in a representative democracy such as ours.

As appealing as a single-payer system is, there’s no avoiding the fact that our democracy is simply unable to fund such a project. One of the most important skills in our modern political era of Twitter and “fake news” is the ability to fact check politicians. Next time a politician proposes a plan too good to be true — it probably is.

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