‘Medicare for Alls’ rich benefits ‘leapfrog’ other nations
Published 8:38 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019
WASHINGTON — The “Medicare for All” plan embraced by leading 2020 Democrats appears more lavish than what other advanced countries offer, compounding the cost but also potentially broadening its popular appeal.
The plan from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would charge no copays or deductibles for medical care, allowing only limited cost-sharing for some prescription drugs. It would cover long-term care at home and in community settings. Dental, vision and hearing coverage would be included.
But while other countries do guarantee coverage for all, the benefits vary significantly. Canada, often cited as a model, does not cover outpatient prescriptions and many Canadians have private insurance for medications. Many countries don’t cover long-term care. Modest copays are common.
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“Medicare for All proposals would leapfrog other countries in terms of essentially eliminating private insurance and out-of-pocket costs, and providing very expansive benefits,” said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “It raises questions about how realistic the proposals are.”
Shifting the sprawling U.S. health care system to a government-run “single-payer” plan is one of the top issues in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, but the candidates are divided. Some have echoed Sanders’ call, while others want to expand coverage within the current mix of private and government insurance. Independent studies estimate Medicare for All would dramatically increase government spending, from $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over 10 years. It stands no chance with Republicans controlling the White House and the Senate, but it is getting hearings in the Democratic-led House.