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medicare for all myths

Click on the Myth to learn the truth.


  1. You won't be able to choose your own doctor or hospital

  2. The government will tell your doctor what to do

  3. You will have to buy insurance you don't need

  4. You will have to buy expensive health insurance

  5. You won't be allowed to choose the plan you need

  6. More competition among insurers will improve access and lower costs

  7. Government health insurance will be a burden for employers

  8. People don't want government health care

  9. Government health care will cost more

  10. Medicare is going bankrupt

  11. Government health care is poor quality health care

  12. Seniors would be worse off if everyone had Medicare

  13. Canada's single payer program proves the US system is better 

  14. Most people want to keep their private health insurance

1.  You wont be able to choose your own doctor and hospital


Not true. You would have more choice than you do now.


Medicare beneficiaries have the biggest choice of doctors and hospitals in the US. Medicare already has the largest network of doctors, hospitals and other providers. Medicare beneficiaries can see any doctor and go to any hospital in that network in any state. Medicare For All would extend this freedom of choice to all Americans.

2.  The government will tell your doctor what to do

Not true. The government allows and encourages doctors to use the most effective treatment for all medical conditions.


Medicare covers all effective treatments for medical conditions and your doctor can use whatever is right for you. Medicare does not limit your doctor in any way from prescribing a treatment that’s proven to be effective for your condition. Medicare For All would extend this freedom of choice to all Americans.

3.  You will have to buy insurance you don't need

Not true. If you have a body and plan to keep it in working order, then you need the comprehensive insurance that Medicare provides.


You don’t know if you’ll get sick with a serious illness in the near future and you don’t know what treatment will cost. What you do know is that a serious and expensive illness could bankrupt you, and if you can’t access treatment because you can’t pay for it, then it may kill you. You absolutely need to be insured against this possibility. The challenge today is not that you don’t need it, the challenge today is that you may not be able afford what you need. Medicare For All would make the health insurance you need affordable for you.


The health insurance everybody needs is coverage for all effective treatments which is the insurance that Medicare provides. Medicare For All would extend this full coverage to all Americans.

4.  You will have to buy expensive health insurance

Not true. Health insurance will be affordable for you and your income.


Medicare For All, like Medicare, would be funded through a payroll tax and other general progressive tax revenues. It would be affordable for each person because the cost is proportional to your income and spending.


Unlike private health insurance premiums, which are the same if you have a big income, a small income or no income, the cost of Medicare is adjusted for your income in various ways, which makes it affordable.


Health care itself is too expensive, but this is a problem for private insurance as well as Medicare, and would be easier to fix if Medicare had more members and more market leverage. Medicare For All would have more impact on the rising cost of health care than any insurer has today.

5.  You won't be allowed to choose the plan you need

Not true. You will have a plan that covers everything you need.


You don’t want any health insurance that doesn’t cover the worst illness you might get.


There are two kinds of cheap health insurance policies: Those with high deductibles and those with limited coverage of illnesses and treatments. Both work for health insurers because you, not the insurer, pays for most of the cost of your care.


With high deductibles you will have to spend five figure sums out of your own pocket. With limited coverage you may find yourself uninsured for the care that you need, and have to pay out of pocket.


Given the alternative of Medicare For All with premiums that are affordable because they are proportional to your income, and coverage of all medically effective care, why would anyone want to buy cheap under-insurance instead?


6.  More competition among insurers will improve access and lower costs

Not true. In fact, the opposite is true. More competition among insurers will increase the cost of health care, and health insurance.


80% of insurance costs are spent on health care - payments for drugs, medical devices, hospitals, doctors and other health care.


These costs are higher in the US than anywhere else in the world because insurance companies are too small to negotiate better prices for healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid are big enough (controlling 70% total health care spending) to negotiate better prices but are forbidden from doing so by law.  Instead, they base payments to providers on the average price paid by private insurers. The 30 % of total health care spending accounted for by private insurers is divided up among multiple private insurers, none of which has sufficient market share to set prices.


There’s no reason to believe that letting insurers in one failing state health care market sell their products in another state will help with this problem.


Adding more insurers to the mix makes the problem of the high cost of medical care worse, not better.  Competition leads to increased spending by private insurers on market analysis, advertising, etc., all of which increases rather than drives down the cost of health care.


Competition among providers, not insurers, is what’s needed to control health care costs. Competition among providers would be maximized if Medicare For All insured all 340 million Americans.

7.  Government health insurance will be a burden for employers

Not true. The burden on business will be less.


Having to provide private health insurance for employees is a major burden for employers, particularly small business which is the growth engine for new jobs in the US economy. Medicare does not increase this burden, it eliminates it.


Burdens of the current system for business include:


  • Yearly increases in premium costs of 5%-10% or more which, unlike labor and materials costs, are rising faster than inflation

  • Health insurance premiums that are paid in advance, unlike labor and materials costs. This creates a constant cash-flow challenge, particularly in businesses with long periods between signing contracts and getting paid, and for seasonal business that want to retain skilled employees through periods of no revenue.

  • Owner/management time taken away from core business activities for selection of health plans, administration of open enrollment periods, enrollment of new employees, setting up COBRA for departing employees, and problem-solving for disputes over employee health claims that have been denied by insurers. Small business owners estimate this takes as much as 20% of their time

  • Poor management/employee relations because of health insurance issues

  • Employee health insurance costs act like a tariff we impose on our own manufacturers who export goods produced in the US, when they compete with foreign manufacturers who do not pay those costs.  For example, it is estimated that employee health insurance added $1500 to the cost of every car manufactured in Detroit in 2004.


Medicare For All would eliminate all of this burden for business, replacing it with a single payroll deduction line item requiring essentially no more effort on the part of the employer than the current FICA deduction.


8.  People don't want government health care

Not true. They do.


92% want to universal health care insurance for all Americans, including many Republicans.


62% want a Medicare For All solution today.


Even more Americans will want Medicare For All when they understand that Medicare For All will give them more freedom to choose doctors and hospitals, control health care costs better, and will be paid for with premiums that are linked to their income, and therefore affordable.

9.  Government health care will cost more

Not true. Medicare For All would lower the total cost of health care in the US.


The health care system currently wastes 33% of the money it’s given on activity that does nothing to improve the health of Americans. Over a trillion dollars a year is wasted in this way.


About half this waste, 500 billion dollars, is wasted on the marketing, sales and administrative costs of private insurance companies. (The rest is related to over-treatment of various kinds, and fraud.)


Medicare operates with a 2% administrative overhead while private insurers operate with a 15%-20% overhead.


Replacing multiple private insurers with a single insurer - Medicare For All - eliminates the no-value private insurance waste and would save 500 billion dollars a year.


In addition, the greater market leverage of Medicare For All would have the market leverage to address the rising cost of health care. For example, the VA (which is allowed to negotiate drug prices) pays as much as 60% less for drugs than Medicare currently does, which allows the VA to pay similar prices to those paid in Canada and Europe.


The savings from eliminating the waste in spend on private insurance premiums would be more than the increase in taxes, so the overall cost of Medicare For All would be significantly less than the current spend on health care in the US.


10.  Medicare is going bankrupt

Not true. Medicare is solvent and will remain so.


Medicare is currently solvent. Revenues for the Medicare Trust Fund exceed expenditures.


The Medicare Trust Fund, which pays for Medicare Part A - hospital care, is funded through Medicare payroll taxes and other revenues. This Fund will start to spend more than it receives in 2028 or later.  This does not mean that the Fund is bankrupt, it means that the Fund will spend, by small amounts, more than it’s taking in.


This has happened before and Congress has fixed the problem by increasing contributions to the Fund.


This situation has come about partly because the aging US population is living longer than expected, but also because the cost of health care is rising faster than expected. The market leverage of Medicare For All will dampen price increases more effectively than the current fragmented system of private insurance, and will help to preserve the financial stability of the Medicare Trust Fund.


Medicare Parts B, C and D, which pay for specialist care, nursing home care and drugs, etc. are paid for with premiums and general tax revenues on an annual basis. There is no fund to go bankrupt. This part of Medicare, which represents the majority of Medicare spending, cannot go bankrupt.

11.  Government health care is poor quality health care

Not true. Medicare is a leader in providing high-quality health care.


Medicare For All would let you use the same doctors and hospital you use now so the quality of care you’d get would not change. (You could, if you were unhappy with your current choices, choose another doctor and hospital too.)


Medicare leads the health care industry in measuring the quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals and paying them more for high quality care and patient satisfaction, and less for poor quality outcomes. This has improved care for many patients.


Medicare For All would be in a better position to advance these quality improvement efforts because of its increased market leverage so it’s reasonable to expect higher quality of care with Medicare For All health insurance.

12.  Seniors would be worse off if everyone had Medicare

Not true.  Others having Medicare takes nothing away from seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries because younger people joining Medicare would be paying their own premiums and contributing to the other taxes that fund Parts B, C and D of Medicare.

Medicare For All, with it’s market negotiating leverage increased from 60 million to 340 million Americans, would lower health care costs for everyone, including seniors. With all Americans wanting improvements in Medicare – including dental and vision coverage – Medicare For All would almost certainly also bring improved benefits as well as lower costs to seniors.


Seniors should support the expansion of Medicare to other Americans. 

13.  Canada's single payer program proves the US system is better 

Not true.  See this article for details. 

14.  Most people want to keep their private health insurance

No.  Most people want to keep their health care providers.  No one loves middlemen health insurance companies, especially if they have had to struggle to get them to approve or pay for care.  In addition, the survey that showed there was less than overwhelming support was deeply flawed. 

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