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The Cost of "Medicare for All"

By Tyler Bauer

One of the most popular policy ideas among the far left is “Medicare for all.” I have talked about this before (click here for my piece on the welfare state and here for my piece on democratic socialism), but a recent study will allow me to look further into the validity of “Medicare for all” in the United States.

“Medicare for All” Would be an Economic Disaster

According to a recent study, Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan would cost $32.6 trillion over ten years. (For the sake of comparison, the United States government has accrued only about $21 trillion worth of debt over 242 years). Divided over ten years, “Medicare for all” would add an additional $3.26 billion to the government’s spending every year, which would increase yearly spending by over seventy-five percent.

Can this study be trusted?

Bernie Sanders, perhaps the most notable supporter of Medicare for all policies, was quick to criticize the findings of this study. To be fair, the study was conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which receives funding from the infamous Koch brothers. The Koch brothers are by no means supporters of “Medicare for all,” so Sanders argued that this finding was politically motivated.

While it’s probably true that the Koch brothers wouldn’t want to paint “Medicare for all” in a positive light, the findings of this study are by no means politically motivated. Sanders’s office has not done its own independent cost estimate (because it’d undermine support for the policy). According to The Hill, other studies by less politically-biased organizations have found similar results regarding the cost of “Medicare for all.”

Will this change how “Medicare for all” is talked about?

Sadly, I don’t think this will change how “Medicare for all” is talked about. If supporters of “Medicare for all” actually cared about its cost, they wouldn’t have supported this policy in the first place. Similarly, most of those who oppose “Medicare for all” already knew of its obscene cost. I think it’s certainly beneficial to be able to put a number on the cost of “Medicare for all,” but it won’t change the discussion about the policy in any way.

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