Medicare for All: 10 Things Every Healthcare Professional Should Understand
If you’re confused about Medicare for All, you’re not alone. There is a profusion of information on how to provide greater health equity for all Americans, which, in turn, is provoking heated debate about the right course for the country. Against this backdrop, two things are clear: Medicare for All would be a massive sea change and, no matter what your point of view is, it’s complicated.
With several proposals on the table for government-funded health insurance programs, it can be challenging to keep them all straight. Here’s a quick scan of 10 frequently asked questions about this timely and complex topic:
1. What is Medicare for All?
Both Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, introduced Medicare for All legislation in the 2019–2020 session of Congress. While the plans have their differences, both envision a national health insurance plan covering all Americans, financed and administered by the federal government. The Medicare for All format is sometimes referred to as single-payer or universal healthcare.
2. What are public option plans?
These plans would feature a government-funded health insurance program that would compete in the marketplace with private insurers. There were four public option plans introduced in the 116th Congress.1 The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) offers a helpful side-by-side comparison of each plan’s design.
3. How much would I pay for coverage?
Under both Medicare for All proposals, there would be no premiums or out-of-pocket expense, with one exception: In the Sanders plan, an individual could be responsible for up to $200 a year for prescription drugs. The public option proposals offer a mix of premium and cost-sharing structures.1
4. How would the U.S. fund Medicare for All?
There are different approaches in the single-payer and public option models. In Jayapal’s Medicare for All plan, the government would use money allocated to Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health services.2 The common denominator in most plans is a tax increase, at least at some income levels. But as Medical for All proponents point out, individuals would no longer be paying premiums or co-pays, or fronting deductibles.
5. Won’t this be too costly for the federal government?
There are numerous studies showing the potential impact of a Medicare for All system on the U.S. economy. One published in the Feb. 15, 2020, issue of The Lancet found that “a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017).”3
6. I like my employer’s healthcare coverage. Would I be able to keep it?
Under Medicare for All, you could not. The public option plans, like the Medicare for America Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), would allow people to opt out of a public program in favor of private insurance, including employer-sponsored plans.1
7. Would I be able to keep my doctors?
In an interview with WebMD, Sara Collins, vice president of health care coverage and access for the Commonwealth Fund, said in her view the answer is yes. “You won’t be restricting choice, but rather just how the health system is paid for,” she said.4
8. My 16-year-old has Type 1 diabetes. Will preexisting conditions be covered?
Medicare for All and other plans will operate like the Affordable Care Act in this regard—so, yes, preexisting health issues will be covered.5
9. How strong is the support for Medicare for All?
It depends on who you ask. A poll released in April 2020, conducted by The Hill and market research company HarrisX, reported that 69% of registered voters surveyed support Medicare for All. The data, isolated by party affiliation, was as follows: 88% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 46% of Republicans are in favor.6
10. If Medicare for All is passed, how long would implementation take?
Experts say that any such massive overhaul of the insurance and healthcare industry is likely to evolve over time. Once enacted, Jayapal’s bill would take effect in two years, though those under 19 or those 55 and older could enroll after one year. The Sanders plan would take effect in four years.2
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Whether you choose course-based or competency-based learning, you’ll be on your way to earning an MHA degree that can help you claim your seat at the decision-maker’s table, helping to shape the future of healthcare administration.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
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