How Much Would Universal Health Care Cost?

Health care costs have become a prominent topic of contention during the Democratic primary, with Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” proposal making headlines. Under Sanders’ plan, private health insurance would be replaced with one national plan covering everyone and paying doctors and hospitals the same rates regardless of whether or not they had Medicare enrollees.

Plan supporters contend that universal coverage could be affordable to the federal government by increasing taxes to cover additional costs; savings in administrative expenses and out-of-pocket spending on premiums, copays, and deductibles would offset these additional expenses. They further contend that universal coverage could save lives; according to one estimate by the Mercatus Center it could prevent over 4 million premature deaths by increasing life expectancies by 1.73 years over 10 years.

But, how much does it really cost to provide health insurance to all? Our research indicates that implementing a national, universal health care system could cost around $36 trillion through 2026 (this figure includes costs associated with long-term care benefits). We used a microsimulation model to estimate what it would take for doctors, hospitals, and other providers under different policies to be compensated. This approach is superior to simply projecting the total government spending because it takes into account individual responses and health needs differently than assumed, as well as hospital limits in terms of bill payment – without enough funds, hospitals will no longer be able to provide care, leading to higher prices overall.

At our annual study on health-related expenses, we surveyed more than one thousand individuals to gauge how much they and their families spend each year on health-related costs such as premiums and out-of-pocket expenses such as copays and deductibles. On average, families spent approximately $471 monthly by 2022; lower income individuals experienced even greater strain; 56 percent of those whose income fell within 400% of poverty reported difficulty affording health care even with insurance in place.

To estimate how much a national, universal system might cost, we compared our estimates with what the governments of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and the U.K. spent last year to cover their populations through direct public spending as well as compulsory insurance programs financed with tax payer money. This led us to an estimate between $30 trillion to $40 trillion — equivalent to seven times today’s federal budget — even though this number seems high given that the United States already spends more per capita on health care than any other nation.

作者: admin