Medicare For All Would Save Trillions, Koch Brothers Find By Accident, Whoops!

Medicare For All Would Save Trillions, Koch Brothers Find By Accident, Whoops!
United Workers on Flickr

What if the Koch Brothers funded a big ol' report scoring the costs of Medicare for All, and it accidentally revealed US of America would save two trillion dollars with a T? Would that be bad? Well, sure it would, if their press outreach didn't fix it by focusing only on VERY LOUD NOISES MEDICARE FOR ALL COSTS BIG NUMBERS OF MONEY ... and leaving the two-trillion MORE our healthcare already costs in the equivalent of a FISA application footnote.

The LOLibertarians analysis is by Matt Breunig, president of the People's Policy Center. Breunig explains the methodology used by Mercatus Center author Charles Blahous. Blahous looks at the projected cost of healthcare in the USA between 2022 and 2031, applies the savings that would come from Medicare for All, and estimates the overall savings would be in the ballpark of $2 trillion. That's with a T.

Mercatus focuses on HOLY SHIT MEDICARE FOR ALL WILL COST ALL THE WORLD'S MONEY -- instead of that it would be $2 trillion less -- because otherwise they might lose their hack license; the total cost of healthcare in the USA is already HUGE, and instead of being paid out by our existing cat's cradle of private insurance, government programs at the state and federal level, and people paying out of pocket, the whole shebang would be shifted to the federal government and paid for by taxes, like in socialist hellholes like Canada. The total is actually deceptive, because we're already paying that and more through a whole lot of sources, and not everyone is covered, as Breunig explains.

[Federal] health expenditures will necessarily go up a lot, [to] $32.6 trillion over the 10-year period according to Blahous. But this is more of an accounting thing than anything else: rather than paying premiums, deductibles, and copays for health care, people will instead pay a tax that is, on average, a bit less than they currently pay into the healthcare system and, for those on lower incomes, a lot less.

Significant healthcare savings from a single-payer system isn't at all what the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center expected, and was sure to leave a bad taste in mouths of its top funders, the free-market Flavr-Aid sipping Koch family. Clearly, clever spin was called for:

[The] real game here for Mercatus is to bury the money-saving finding in the report's tables while headlining the incomprehensibly large $32.6 trillion number in order to trick dim reporters into splashing that number everywhere and freaking out.

Here's Paul Ryan being helpful:

Your editrix, the jerb creator, would point out that she covers her employees with one of those "high deductible insurance plans" where she pays $10,000 for each employee before insurance covers a single dollar of medical costs. She'd be delighted to pay some of that to the government instead!

Not surprisingly, Ryan's is precisely the approach taken by Fox News, whose article is all about the incredible costs to taxpayers of Bernie Sanders's (and John Conyers's, and John Dingell's, and John Dingell Sr.'s) crazy idea. Oh, sure, Fox mentions the savings, but only generally, and even that's offset by the terrifying news that more people would be covered, OH NO:

The hikes would allow the government to replace what employers and consumers currently pay for health care -- delivering significant savings on administration and drug costs, but increased demand for care that would drive up spending, according to the report.

Not stated there: Even with the increased demand, those "increased" costs would still be lower than the price of our current hodgepodge of unsystematic systems that leaves millions with no coverage at all. The Associated Press version -- which Fox News's report draws on -- at least provides more details about the savings, and notes the proposal would cover 30 million people who currently have no coverage, and that the plan would eliminate copays and deductibles, as well as covering dental and vision care.

Nonetheless, the AP headline and lede focus on that great big number, SO SCARY, long before mentioning the savings. You might think the lede could compare the cost of doing nothing -- again, trillions of dollars more, and 30 million uninsured -- to the cost of Medicare for All, huh?

Breunig also points out Blahous may have underestimated the administrative savings that could result from Medicare for All:

He assumes administrative costs will only drop from 13 percent to 6 percent for those currently privately insured. But, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare's administrative costs have consistently been below 2 percent.

In addition, Breunig is skeptical of the report's estimates for higher costs due to increased utilization of healthcare, suggesting the actual amount of increase may be lower. But even if Blahous erred on the conservative side, it's a hell of a sweet deal:

We get to insure every single person in the country, virtually eliminate cost-sharing, and save everyone from the hell of constantly changing health insurance all while saving money. You would have to be a fool to pass that offer up.

But what about the loss of the GOP's Big Fat Tax Cut For Rich Fuckwads? Shouldn't any fair accounting of Medicare for All take into account the disastrous effects on the luxury yacht industry?

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[People's Policy Project / Mercatus Center / Fox News / AP / Image by United Workers on Flickr, Creative Commons license 2.0]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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