Medicare for All offers an alluring promise—“free” health care at the point of service. Hiding behind this claim are higher taxes for almost every American. When politicians say that Medicare for All will consolidate and lower health care costs, they are ignoring economic realities and promising more than they can deliver. In Section 5, scholars examine the two largest financial components of Medicare for All: higher taxes for Americans, and an increase in federal spending.
Some politicians claim that most Americans will end up paying less for health care under government-run health care, once private care is abolished. The reality: Roughly three-quarters of Americans would be worse off financially under Medicare for All. Median-income married couples would be worse off, unmarried median-income workers without dependents would be worse off, even low-income unmarried mothers would be worse off. Worst off: people who get health coverage from their employer today. Medicare for All would cost some working families more than their budget for electricity, others, their gasoline budget, and others even more than their food budget.
One reason for this situation: Federal spending would increase dramatically under Medicare for All, by more than $30 trillion in 10 years. And higher taxes pay for this new spending. Under the new system, most working Americans would see nearly half their paychecks going to the government. If American legislators and citizens are going to consider a government-controlled health care system, they should be aware of its fiscal and political costs. Medicare for All is necessarily all-encompassing and expensive; once adopted, there would be no simple way to reverse course. Section 5 demonstrates this reality through original research and illustrations of how Medicare for All will affect individuals and families.