Imagine a world in which the rosy assumptions Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., makes on behalf of his â€śMedicare for allâ€ť health-care plan turn out to be true. That is what Charles Blahous, a professor at George Mason Universityâ€™s libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center, did in a paper released last month. He found that the government would expand massively - by a whopping $32.6 trillion over 10 years, gobbling up an additional 12.7 percent of gross domestic product by 2031. If everything went perfectly, millions more people would be covered and receive generous benefits over that decade, while the country as a whole would save $2 trillion in total health-care costs when reductions in private health-care spending are taken into account. But that is a cosmically huge â€śif.â€ť
Sandersâ€™ bill would move practically all responsibility for spending on Americansâ€™ health-care onto the federal budget. It would offer health-care coverage to everyone with zero co-pays and extend dental, vision and hearing benefits to all.
The Vermont senator would then impose extreme cost-cutting on doctors and hospitals to make the numbers add up, requiring providers to accept Medicare payment rates for their services. Medicare hospital payment rates currently run at about 60 percent of private insurance rates.
Sanders frequently points to European single-payer programs that provide health care to all and spend less per person than the U.S. health system. But these programs have mainly been successful in restraining growth in health-care costs, not slashing spending. The Europeans have not found some secret formula to cut health-care spending from existing levels, which is the they keystone of Sandersâ€™ plan.
Such disruptive reform of the health-care system would require a national consensus to dramatically expand the government that is not foreseeable.
-The Washington Post