Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined by, Sen . Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., front right, introduces the Medicare for All Act of 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

‘Medicare for All’s’ rich benefits ‘leapfrog’ other nations

Plan from Sen. Bernie Sanders would charge no copays or deductibles for medical care,

Generous benefits. No copays. No need for private policies. The “Medicare for All” plan advocated by leading 2020 Democrats appears more lavish than what’s offered in other advanced countries, compounding the cost but also potentially broadening its popular appeal.

While other countries do provide coverage for all, benefits vary. Canada’s plan, often cited as a model, does not cover outpatient prescription drugs and many Canadians have private insurance for medications. Many countries don’t cover long-term care.

But the Medicare for All plan from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would charge no copays or deductibles for medical care, allowing only limited cost-sharing for certain prescription drugs. Sanders would cover long-term care home and community-based services. Dental, vision and hearing coverage would be included. The House version of the legislation is along similar lines.

“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 realis tic 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 endorsed 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.

Economist Sherry Glied, dean of New York University’s Wagner school of public policy, says the offer of generous benefits may be needed to persuade Americans satisfied with employer coverage that they would be better off in a new government plan.

“You are going to have to be very generous if you want this to be politically appealing to lots of people,” said Glied, who was a senior health care adviser in the Obama administration.

Glied says components like benefits, copayments and deductibles would all be negotiable.

“People put out talking points and then they see what Congress is willing to swallow,” said Glied. “Who knows where it would come out in the end.”

A second congressional hearing on Medicare for All is scheduled Wednesday before the House Budget Committee. Votes this year appear unlikely. The plan is a punching bag for Republicans trying to tag Democrats as “socialists.”

In a statement, Sanders’ office said it’s fair for the senator to compare Medicare for All to what other countries have because “all those other countries guarantee health care as a right,” as his plan would.

“Sen. Sanders believes providing comprehensive coverage through the government to all residents is the best way to do it,” said the statement.

If the legislation were to advance to votes, “we will hear out concerns from our colleagues and work with them to get this bill passed,” the statement continued. “But we are very clear about what we want and what this country needs. Insurance company CEOs are going to pay well before the American people are.”

Two recent reports have called attention to differences among countries that cover everyone and are often held up as models for Medicare for All.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office will be the focus of Wednesday’s House hearing. Another report, for the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, was written by Glied. Among its findings: Other countries don’t necessarily take the same approach as Medicare for All, using a range of strategies to cover all their residents.

“Currently, single-payer bills in the U.S. tend to share the same key goals: centralizing…the system, expanding the public benefits package and eliminating private health insurance entirely,” the Commonwealth report said. “However, these three features are not the norm across countries that have achieved universal coverage for health care.”

The report found that one group of countries — including Denmark, Britain and Germany — provide comprehensive benefits. That includes, for example, mental health. They charge low copays. Those countries are the closest to Medicare for All.

A larger group — including Australia, France, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan — offer broad benefits but there may be gaps, and cost sharing is higher. Australia charges $60 for specialist visits. The Netherlands has a $465 deductible. Dental coverage may be limited.

Finally, Canada has a narrow national benefits package. It doesn’t cover outpatient prescriptions, long-term care, mental health, vision and dental. But there’s no cost sharing for hospital and doctors’ services. Canadians rely on private insurance and provincial governments to fill the gaps.

READ MORE: Trump tells anti-abortion activists to stay united for 2020

READ MORE: Donald Trump grants pardon to former media mogul Conrad Black

___

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Community of Vavenby weekly news update

Vavenby Elementary School has two teachers this year as the number of students has increased

Teamster Brad Cameron steps back in the arena

Cameron gets win in the Novice Wagon Competition

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Most Read