Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) confessed Wednesday that the Medicare for All plan she is pushing as part of her presidential campaign could throw as many as two million Americans out of work.
Warren, in keeping with the trend among Democratic presidential contenders, has endorsed single-payer, universal health insurance, aka “Medicare for All.” Unlike former President Barack Obama, today’s Democrats are bluntly telling Americans that they won’t be allowed to keep health plans they like if Democrats get their way because private insurance will be outlawed. That, of course, means health insurers would be forced out of business, and many others who labor in the healthcare marketplace would also lose their jobs.
University of Massachusetts – Amherst economist Robert Pollin told Kaiser Health News Medicare for All would cause “somewhere in the range of 2 million” job losses. About half those jobs would come from insurance companies, and the other half would come from hospitals and doctors’ offices, he said.
In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, Warren was queried about Pollin’s estimate and his contention that politicians who favor Medicare for All need to consider what a “just transition” from the current system to single-payer would entail. “What would that look like for you?” Warren was asked.
“I agree,” replied the senator. “I think this is part of the cost issue and should be part of a cost plan.”
Warren went on to argue that many of the jobs that would be lost exist only because of a “for-profit insurance system” that operates by taking in more in premiums than it pays out in benefits. Thus, the loss of these jobs would not be such a bad thing, in her opinion.
Certainly the healthcare system is bloated and top-heavy with administrators, but most of this is attributable to government interference. Government has encouraged generous, employer-sponsored health insurance and has directly insured senior citizens and low-income families. It has mandated that insurers cover a variety of conditions, including pre-existing ones, without charging rates commensurate with risk. It has restricted the supply of doctors, hospitals, and treatments. This combination of shrunken supply and goosed demand has driven healthcare costs through the roof. Both insurers and healthcare providers have been forced to hire many people to comply with government demands and to control costs.
Doing away with such jobs might be beneficial in the long term, but wiping them out overnight by fiat would be unfair to the displaced employees and would surely have deleterious effects on the economy — not to mention unemployment-insurance programs.
Worse still, Warren’s proposed replacement for private insurance would have the same problems as the current system but none of its benefits. Americans would still have to pay insurance premiums in the form of higher taxes; in 2017, the average Canadian family, for example, shelled out over $12,000 for universal healthcare. Americans would also experience denial of care, most likely to a much greater degree than they do now. More than 63,000 Canadians traveled abroad in 2016 to get care their government wouldn’t cover; most came to the United States. Where will they — and, more to the point, Americans — go if Uncle Sam takes over our healthcare system?
Anyone expecting Warren to have a ready solution to Medicare-for-All-induced unemployment will be sorely disappointed. But then Warren has been cagey all along about how much the program is going to cost — one estimate puts it at $3 trillion a year — and how she expects to cover that cost. Asked Wednesday when she’ll release her plan to pay for the program, Warren simply replied, “Soon.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the originator of Medicare for All, has also become much more tightlipped about how he intends to make others pay for it, recently telling CNBC’s John Harwood that he’s not even going to bother trying to figure that out right now. Quizzed about Sanders’ sudden secretiveness, Warren said, “We just each run our own campaigns regardless of what kind of money is involved.”
In other words, how much Medicare for All is going to cost — and who is going to bear that cost — is irrelevant. What’s important to Warren and her fellow socialists is bamboozling enough people into voting for “free” healthcare.