by Grace Zhang

You’ve probably heard of it before, but what really is Medicare for All and what exactly will it do? Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would be a national, single-payer health insurance. This means that all essential healthcare would be paid for entirely by taxes and be under one system run by the federal government. All residents would be covered under this plan, which means that you don’t have to be a citizen to be covered. Sanders would also expand it to “include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs”, etc., drastically increasing coverage and making it accessible to the millions of Americans that go without insurance or are uninsured in the status quo. 

Sanders also promises to limit the amount Americans have to pay for medicine every year to $200. He plans to do this in 3 ways. First, through the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. Since Medicare would now be covering every resident of the United States, they would have significant leverage, making negotiating for lower prices relatively easy. Additionally, it would eliminate existing barriers to negotiations that exist for Medicare. Second, the patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers would be allowed to import cheaper prescription drugs from industrialized countries, such as Canada, with the passage of the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act. Lastly, the proposed “Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, by pegging prices to the median drug price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.” These countries have significantly lower drug prices than the United States and often provide the same, if not better, quality of healthcare for much less than the U.S. does currently.

Many critics of Sander’s plan argue that it would be too expensive and further increase America’s federal debt. However, Sander’s claims that our current healthcare system actually wastes billions of dollars a year; according to Yale University, implementing Medicare for all “would save over $450 billion” each, which would help pay for it. Additionally, he has proposed wealth taxes and taxes on Wall Street and large corporations to generate revenue to pay for Medicare for all as well as his other policies. However, it remains unclear how feasible and effective implementing a universal healthcare system would be in the United States, even with Sanders’ proposed tax plans and whether or not it would actually solve any of the problems we face in the status quo. Is this radical overhauling of our current system a solution to our broken healthcare system or merely a waste of taxpayer dollars? Only time will tell.

(PSA: I strongly encourage everyone to form their own opinions on this subject and do some of their own research. If you would like to read the sources I’ve consulted, I’ve linked them down below. Thanks!)