Health Care Policy and the Presidential Race

On Facebook you can see a little video by Robert Reich in which he convincingly demonstrates that Medicare for All would provide more comprehensive coverage and cost a lot less than the present system. This would be achieved because private insurance companies would be cut out except for supplementary insurance, which some companies currently offer to those eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. 

These insurance companies are largely parasitical. Why tolerate them? The only reason they exist is that they finance legislators. To get rid of them, we would have to have a critical mass of politicians agree to spurn their largesse. It’s unrealistic to think that such a thing would happen just because a proponent of Medicare for All, like Bernie Sanders, became president. Politicians inclined to keep the present system –– a large majority –– point to the huge number of insurance employees who would be thrown out of work, and the hardship such a seismic shift would impose on investors, whose shares of stock in health care insurance companies would plummet if they suddenly lost most of their business. Offsets could be devised to deal with these problems, but  as a matter of practical reality, transitioning to Medicare for All can’t be accomplished overnight. If it’s ever is to come about, it has to be through incremental steps, for example, bit by bit lowering the age at which people are eligible for Medicare. The transition should be financed not only by reducing funds spent on insurance companies, but by a far more progressive tax structure, more than reversing the 2017 monstrous tax cut for the rich and especially for the super rich. The next president should set these changes in motion.

Bernie Sanders would be much more aggressive in effecting the transition than Joe Biden. But, despite the protestations of his supporters, Bernie appears to be much less likely to beat Trump than Biden. Better to have a bird almost in hand than have sight of two on the other side of the hedgerow.