Medicare for All has become one of the core values of the progressive moment. Whether in the form of the clarion call from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) or at the state level with the bold plan of Michigan gubernatorial hopeful Abdul El-Sayed and his Michicare proposal, single payer healthcare burns in the heart of the progressive movement.
While not the only strike opponents of single payer like to use, the mammoth costs of the program are among their concerns. But as Grit Post reported last week, those costs might not be as significant as they appear at first glance.
“I’m scoring the federal cost here, and it’s enormous,” said Charles Blahous of the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “The other side of the coin is businesses, individuals, states and others are not going to be paying these costs. They’re going to be given to the federal government.”
While the government’s spending on healthcare would increase, Blahous’ analysis found that overall spending on healthcare would decrease. As the only buyer of health services, the government would be empowered to negotiate far more effectively against the real robber barons of the health system: hospitals. (Related, did you know that the average cesarean section costs $3,676 in the United States and $606 in Canada?)
And some of the biggest winners? Business. Small businesses bear a heavy toll of the current employer-provided health insurance system, Taken as a whole, the private sector pays $243 billion in taxes and a whopping $1.2 trillion in healthcare. They pay five times their taxes in insurance. Businesses spend around $10,000 per employee on insurance.
As Yahoo Finance points out, even quadrupling business taxes to pay for a Medicare for All option would still be a net gain for businesses. So, why aren’t corporations leading the charge for the progressive policy?
Mark Dudzic of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer had some thoughts.
“Corporations like having healthcare linked to employment. They like having people held captive in jobs they hate for fear they they’ll lose their health coverage. They like it that, when you go on strike, you generally lose your health insurance,” wrote Dudzic. “Large corporations almost always religiously resist any attempt to regulate or control their behavior.”
So it may be up to the wave of progressive energy behind single payer to get business to take its medicine.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.