The ruinous cost of free health care 1

“Free” government benefits are the most expensive goods in the world.

The Democratic Socialist Party – formerly the Democratic Party – is trying to win votes by promising free health care for all.

Supposing a national health service were to be introduced into the USA, what would it cost?

Investor’s Business Daily reports and comments:

Democrats have been falling over themselves to endorse Bernie Sanders’s government takeover of health care. Maybe they should have taken a closer look at his “Medicare for all” plan before signing up. The gargantuan price tag is just one of its many terrible flaws.

Last year, 16 Senators, including three presidential hopefuls, co-sponsored Sanders’s “Medicare for all” bill. And earlier this month, more than 70 Democrats signed on to form a “Medicare for all” caucus. Support for the bill is now something of a litmus test for Democratic hopefuls.

Do they have any idea what they’re endorsing?

A new study out Monday from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center finds that the Sanders plan would add $32.6 trillion to federal spending in its first 10 years, with costs steadily rising from there. That closely matches other studies — including one by the liberal Urban Institute — that looked at the Sanders plan.

To put this in perspective, “Medicare for all” would nearly double the size of the already bloated federal government.

Doubling corporate and individual income taxes wouldn’t cover the costs.

Even this [estimate of $32.6 trillion over 10 years] is wildly optimistic. To get to this number, author Charles Blahous had to make several completely unrealistic assumptions about savings under Sanders’ hugely disruptive plan.

The first is a massive cut in payments to providers. Sanders wants to apply Medicare’s below-market rates across the board, which would amount to a roughly 40% cut in payments to doctors and hospitals. Blahous figures this will save hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Democrats are also apparently unaware that “Medicare for all” would be a more expensive than anything that exists anywhere else in the world … 

Sanders’ plan would eliminate all out-of-pocket expenses for medical, dental and vision care. The only exception would be a small copay for brand-name drugs. …

There is no industrialized country in the world that does this.

Even in the Scandinavian countries that Bernie Sanders directs us to admire (rather than Stalinist Russia which is actually his ideal), “people pay as much as 30% of their nations’ health costs out-of-pocket”. 

And – perhaps surprisingly to American communists –

In Communist China, almost a third of health spending is out-of-pocket.

In Bernie’s USA, the illusion of all medical treatment being “free” would need to be maintained. But how? After all, doctors cannot work for nothing. Hospitals have running costs.

Because Sanders would eliminate prices entirely from health care, the only way to control health spending would be to slap stiff price controls on doctors, hospitals and drugs, or ration care.

Rationing is inevitable in any government-run health service. Administrators have to decide how to allocate resources. When you are in control of your own medical decisions, you decide what treatment, what drugs you are able or prepared to pay for. When the state decides for you, it will not consult your preferences. It will make kill-or-cure, life-or-death decisions for you. The “death panels” that Sarah Palin warned against will determine how long you live; and, for as long as you live, in what state of health.   

Here’s what health care in the U.S. would look like as a result:

There would be chronic shortages of doctors nationwide. Hospital overcrowding would be epidemic. Waits for everything from hip replacements to cataract surgery to cancer treatments would be extensive. Drug innovation would come to a virtual standstill. And there would be endless fights over the size of the government’s health budget, along with massive amounts of waste, fraud and abuse.

How do we know this? Because this is precisely what’s happened in countries that have already gone down the “Medicare for all” road.

In Canada, the average wait time for a hip replacement is nearly two years in some provinces. Patients with cataracts can end up waiting a year for surgery. The UK has fewer doctors, nurses and hospital beds per capita than any other industrialized nation, and is in a state of almost constant crisis.

Almost constant crisis”? There is no break, no pause, no relief for the briefest of moments from the crisis that is the National Health Service of Great Britain.

Here at home, the Veterans Health Administration — once touted by the left as a model of socialized medicine — has seen deadly delays and massive corruption, even as its budget ballooned in size.

Almost 10% of Medicare spending today is for what the government euphemistically calls “improper payments”, but anyone else would label it waste. Extend this across the entire health care system and Sanders’s “Medicare for all” would result in some $400 billion a year in “improper payments”.

But the biggest problem with “Medicare for all” — and any plan to socialize medicine — is its underlying assumption. Namely, that a handful of government central planners can manage trillions of dollars’ worth of resources better than hundreds of millions of people making trillions of decisions every day in the free market. They can’t.

We already know central planning never works, since it has miserably failed where it’s been tried. It didn’t work in the Soviet Union. It doesn’t work in North Korea or Cuba, and it’s causing untold misery in Venezuela.

A socialist government – which is what the government would be that saves or executes its subjects by controlling their health care – is always, necessarily, inescapably, one big Death Panel.

  • liz

    It’s just mind boggling that Marxism/Socialism is still considered a valid idea by anyone, much less the majority of people in a political party in our country, not to mention a President. Obama praised Nelson Mandela – a communist terrorist – in a recent speech in South Africa. He ought to run for office there – he wouldn’t have to hide his true colors, and maybe, if we were lucky, he’d end up as a casualty in the inevitable bloody climax of the commie “revolution”.