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Higher Costs, Lower Quality, Longer Waits

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Let’s be blunt about so-called “Medicare for All:” We’re talking about government-run, government-controlled health care. Period.

A government-run substitute won’t provide the current Medicare or anything approaching today’s Medicare coverage for anyone, much less for all Americans. The substitute will be substandard. Just as socialized medicine systems in other countries (e.g., Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom), the Democrats’ government-controlled health system will mean Americans will pay more, get less and wait longer.

It’s a bait-and-switch. Whether you mean Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s $52 trillion government takeover of the entire U.S. health system or Sen. Bernie Sanders’s $32 trillion government takeover. Or one of the other Democratic presidential wannabes’ comparatively less stark, still socialist schemes. Or the gateway drug to full-scale government-run health care supported by Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. John Delaney called a “public option.” The bottom line is Americans losing what they now have for health coverage. Whichever flavor of poison, each is a left-wing Democratic proposal to separate you from your doctor, your choices, your say-so concerning your life and health and well-being.

The 181 million Americans who get health insurance through their job? The Warren-Sanders-et al. plans each end up at the same place: The government taking it away. Americans who buy insurance themselves? They’ll lose their personal insurance. Labor union health coverage? No longer available. Highly popular Medicare Advantage health plans? They’re history. Part D drug benefits? No more. Traditional Medicare? Abolished.

How do we know this is a disaster in the making? Because in socialized-medicine countries, the government eventually runs out of other people’s money to spend. So, government-run health care pays closer attention to budget figures than to patients’ needs. Government-run health systems ration care. Patients queue on waiting lists that mean long waits to see the doctor. More long waits to see a specialist. More long waits to undergo diagnostic tests. More waiting to get treatment or an operation.

In government-run health systems, the sickest, oldest, most vulnerable, suffering patients are denied medical care and the best medicines and therapies. Nothing personal, just a bureaucratic decision based on a cold, antiseptic weighing of the person’s “quality of life” against how much they’d cost the government. The life-or-death choice in the UK is made by “NICE” (for the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence). How perfectly Orwellian.

The U.S. Congress may have repealed the original ObamaCare "death panel," the Independent Payment Advisory Board, but the Democrats' single-payer health proposals are bound to resurrect some comparable entity. The ICER model at the heart of NICE is gaining traction in the United States by insurers and advocated by certain officials and payers who view health care primarily in budgetary terms instead of patients' well-being, quality, value or innovation. George Orwell, meet the Democratic presidential candidates and their congressional zealots.

Those trillions and trillions of dollars Democratic candidates claim will come from “the rich” and not average American families won’t be enough. That’s because “free” health care generates more people seeking more medical services. Think there’s a doctor shortage now? Wait till the government-run system pays doctors today’s Medicaid rates or less. Today, many doctors can’t afford to take Medicare fee-for-service patients because of paltry reimbursement rates, compared to those of private health plans, and Medicaid’s even worse.

The wealthy whom Warren, Sanders and the leftist gang plan to filch from won’t be in a position to create jobs and businesses; the size of the economic pie will have been shrunk. Government price controls on medical innovators stymie innovation. Price controls on Big Brother’s medical spending ration care.

Think this an exaggeration? Observe the nightmare of government-run veterans’ and Medicaid health care. Budgetary shortfalls, limited options, delayed access to care, low quality, little value. Why? Desk-bound bureaucrats in Washington or state capitals focused on dollars and cents can’t match the wisdom of individuals and families making their own decisions about their health care. As Milton Friedman said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.” Government-run, single-payer health care? No way!

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