Study: Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ Plan Would Cost Additional $32.6 Trillion

Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
July 30, 2018

A libertarian policy center projects the "Medicare for All" plan promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over ten years.

"Medicare for All" would diminish the role of the insurance industry while building on Medicare to cover all U.S. residents without requiring copays or deductibles, the Associated Press reports. Analysis by the libertarian Mercatus Center projects that under Sanders' plan, "federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022" and then rise to nearly 12.7 percent of GDP in 2031.

The study notes that the projected spending increases are "conservative" estimates "because they assume the legislation achieves its sponsors’ goals of dramatically reducing payments to health providers, in addition to substantially reducing drug prices and administrative costs."

Sanders’ plan would require enormous tax increases in order for the government to replace what employers and consumers currently pay for health care. "A doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan," according to the study.

The senator issued a statement in response to the study, dismissing the "grossly misleading and biased report," as "the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for all’ program." The Mercatus Center receives funding from the Koch brothers, prominent conservative donors, and Charles Koch is on the center’s board.

Other studies have arrived at similar estimates about the cost of Sanders’ health care plan.

Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy professor at Emory University, pointed out that "even though people don’t pay premiums, the tax increases are going to be enormous." Many people will "pay more in taxes than they save on premiums."

Some Democrats, such as congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have embraced Sanders' calls for single-payer health care. During an appearance on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez stumbled through a response to a question about how she would pay for her progressive policies, which include universal health care, free college education, and 100 percent reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

A recent poll found just over half of Americans support single-payer health care, while over 40 percent oppose it.