Bernie Sanders, everyone’s favorite socialist running for the American presidency, has been crisscrossing the country telling everyone that the disruption called Obamacare (or the ACA) is not good enough for America. What we need is the government taking over all of our health care system and providing health care for all. He says Medicare for all. Unfortunately, Sanders does not really confront the facts at hand so we will do it for him.
Mr. Sanders likes to point out that we are the only civilized country that does not have health care as a right for all. As you may have noticed, socialists like to always state whatever they want to give away is a “right” even though it never has been so before. Sanders is unhappy because there are still an estimated 30 million Americans without health insurance (watch that language because leftists like to confuse having health insurance with having health care). He applauds the accomplishments of Obamacare, but says it is not good enough.
What Obamacare did was completely distort the insurance market and the facts. Since 2010 many people have received health insurance because of two reasons. First, many people went back to work after the job losses in late 2008 and early 2009. They received health insurance with their jobs. Second, an estimated 11.2 million Americans were added to the Medicaid rolls. That is the real increase in people covered by health insurance. The ACA could have added those people to the rolls without massive changes to the private insurance sector and threatening every American with fines unless they have health insurance. Even with those threats, 30 million Americans still have not signed up for Medicaid which speaks volumes of their respect for the ACA, Medicaid and the federal government.
Sanders’ big thing is to say how simple this will be for people. He states “So, let me tell you what we do, we raise your taxes if you’re somewhere in the middle of the economy, about 500 bucks, but you know what we’re going to do? For healthcare, we’re going to reduce your healthcare costs by $5,000. “ Go back and read that statement again. If a person went on television and stated “give me $500 and I will save you $5,000 on your next car,” they would be arrested and thrown in jail for committing fraud. Yet, we have a political candidate running for president stating these lies regularly and the mainstream media has not called him a huckster or a fraud.
Bernie has not really delineated how he will be able to accomplish this magnificent feat. Maybe he believes once he is president he will rid the system of “waste, fraud and abuse.” We never heard that one before. Republicans laugh at Donald Trump when he says that, but at least Trump has run something and actually focuses on that in his companies. Sanders has only run Burlington, VT, as the mayor of this city with 42,000 people. That was over 25 years ago. I am not confident that he might have the management skills to accomplish his goals.
Bernie thinks the high costs are because of having private industry involved in the health care system. That makes sense because Bernie thinks almost everyone in private industry is crooked. He thinks the system would be better run and more effective in the hands of the federal government or should we say apparatchiks. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare, estimates that in 2014 some $60 billion was paid for fraudulent claims. Seems like the feds are already doing a bang-up job with our money.
But here is the bigger rub: taking the responsibility for shifting administering health care from private hands to the feds will immediately cause costs to soars. Federal employees are paid 49% more than private industry employees ($84,153 vs $56,350 in 2014). That is before the cost of benefits which makes factors even worse. If you include benefits federal employees are paid 78% more than private industry ($119,934 vs $67,246). Other than the fact that the numbers are obscene on their face, how does Sanders expect to affect these savings with employees who cost on average $52,688 more per year? It does not take a college degree to figure out this is a grossly stupid idea, and Bernie is really clueless about the entire matter.
Then there is my pet peeve about this entire health care issue. Having health insurance does not mean you get health care unless you want to wait nine months for an MRI like you do in the United Kingdom. As stated in this column many times, Obamacare did not add one doctor, nurse or hospital. In fact, it caused a shrinking of the doctor pool as many retired rather than face lower payments with more patients being seen just to stay even. Where is Sanders’ plan to build medical schools, nursing schools and hospitals?
In fact, where is Sanders’ plan to clean up the rampant mistreatment of veterans through the VA which continues today? Sanders threw an estimated $50 billion a year at the problem in 2014, but nowhere does it appear to have resolved the problems with the system.
Bernie envisions himself a man of Scandinavia as he is always saying how peachy matters are there. When we were in Denmark a few years back, we were shown how they are opening their medical system to providers who operate outside the system. That is by demand of the Danish people. Bernie wants to go the other way.
In review, Bernie’s claim of money saved by citizens is worse than even Obama’s lie about the ACA saving $2,500 per family. A 12-year-old could figure out not to give his friend a nickel today on the idea he would be getting 50 cents back soon. Sanders cost analysis of benefits happening by coalescing all services at the federal level makes zero economic sense.
Sanders likes to say it would be Medicare for all. What it would be is Medicaid for all with health care being brought down to the lowest common denominator (isn’t that what socialism is all about?) where no doctors are available to provide services.
A single-payer system is a life-long dream of Sanders; but, for most Americans, it would be a nightmare.