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

Two men arrested for breaking into vehicles in Port Alberni

RCMP still searching for property owners

Alberni drag racers petition for return to the airport

AVDRA hosted their annual Thunder in the Valley drag racing event for 15 years at the airport

BC Transit considers rural bus routes in the Alberni Valley

Sproat Lake, Cherry Creek, Beaver Creek could see service

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

Alberni high school builds community with new mural

Mural was painted by students, Nuu-chah-nulth education workers

VIDEO: Sexting teens at risk of depression and substance abuse, Canadian study says

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of B.C. inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused B.C. cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Most Read