'Medicare for all' is an expensive wrecking ball

'Medicare for all' is an expensive wrecking ball
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"Medicare for all" sounds good and may make good electioneering slogan sense for presidential candidates like Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (D-N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden plan would nearly double capital gains tax for wealthy: report Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave Progressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisGOP sees immigration as path to regain power Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Earth Day 2021: New directions for US climate policy rhetoric MORE (D-Calif.). It is a sales pitch to younger voters and will likely remain popular — at least until the public really understands what an expensive wrecking ball it is.

Our health-care system is still based mostly on private health insurance, with 67.2 percent having private coverage in 2017


Private insurance pays hospitals and doctors much more per patient than government-run health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP) does. Charles Blahous, economist of the Mercatus Institute, calculates that under a system of "Medicare for all," providers will be paid 40 percent less on average than private insurance pays them now.

Keep in mind that no matter how many grants for research a medical center gets, it is really the surgeries and procedures that help pay for the academic side. Patients may not consider this factor until the heart surgeon or plastic surgeon they choose to perform their operation decides to leave for another country or a medical center’s latest new biochemical or promising genetic modulation can’t get sufficient funding for the research to be completed.

"Medicare for all" is also popular among more than half of doctors by some surveys. But I’m sure these doctors aren’t considering the difficulty with approvals, and the excess waiting times for specialists and procedures. These painful processes are all too common and getting worse in our single payer neighbor to the north

Rationing care and several weeks wait to obtain specialized care is sure to dampen innovation at a time of tremendous advances in robotics, genetic and immunotherapies. 

If "Medicare for all" ever takes over here, personalized treatments will be difficult to obtain via a health-care system that will actually be closer to Medicaid than to Medicare in terms of quality. Keep in mind that 30 percent of today’s doctors already don’t take on new Medicaid patients because of lower reimbursements and rigid regulations.

It’s also no wonder that less than half of those surveyed favor "Medicare for all" once they discover the price tag — more than $30 trillion to transition to this new system over 10 years.

This exorbitant price tag is going to have to be accompanied by a large tax hike.

Millions of jobs would be lost due to the collapse of the private health sector. And millions more, who obtain their health insurance from their employer (more than 170 million people), would not want to keep working their marginal jobs if they could get their health insurance “free” from the government. Keep in mind that 70 percent of those surveyed report being happy with the health insurance they receive from their employer. So there is in fact no pressing need to rip this away from them and force them to accept something else. 

One of the most shocking pillars of the "Medicare for all" proposals being touted is the demolition of all private insurance. The resulting upheaval and displacement of health-care access across the board is the main reason that "Medicare for all" doesn’t have a chance of passing.

It is one thing to promote a basic government administered health insurance to reach the have nots; it is quite another to demolish all private insurance to paste up a prefabricated government one-size-fits-all product. The time and place to consider a massive socialized medicine program like "Medicare for all" is in a more primitive society without a well formed health-care system. 

The destruction of the existing system and replacing it with a rigid government-run system with fewer choices might ultimately be cheaper in the long run but it would certainly be lower quality. Socialized health care across the board is not a good fit for America’s way of life. You may not be able to keep your doctor under ObamaCare, but at least you get to keep your health-care system. Not so with "Medicare for all."

Of course, if "Medicare for all" ever passes, the senators and congressmen and congresswomen promoting it will quickly put together a plan to get their own high frills health coverage another way.

Marc Siegel, M.D., is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health. He is a Fox News medical correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @drmarcsiegel.