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Medicare for all would just shift money around

In his Jan. 30 editorial cartoon, the Review-Journal’s Michael Ramirez asks Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., how she is going to pay for the “free health care for all” (and implies that she plans to steal it out of our back pockets). My question to Mr. Ramirez: How are you paying for your health care now?

If you get your health insurance from your employer, you are already getting a “free lunch” — or at least a heavily subsidized lunch. If you get your health insurance from a private health insurance company or out of pocket, you are already paying for your lunch. And if you get your insurance from a government, taxpayers are already paying for it. So one way or another, our annual $3.3 trillion health care bill is already being covered.

Despite what Mr. Ramirez claims, Sen. Harris is not proposing “free health care for all”. “Free” means that nobody pays for it. Ms. Harris is proposing “Medicare for all.” Under the way that Medicare currently works, participants pay a modest monthly premium along with an annual deductible that covers generally 80 percent of your health care costs, with the participants paying the other 20 percent out of pocket or by buying supplemental insurance. Medicare pays the 80 percent (less premiums and deductible) from federal tax revenues.

Medicare for all would work the same way. Except that the “buy-in” for people under 65 would be a much higher premium/deductible to cover the 80 percent cost. This premium could be paid by the employer in part or in total, with the employee paying the balance through a payroll deduction. People currently paying out of pocket could continue doing that.

In effect, the premiums currently paid to private insurers would now be paid to Medicare.

So the short answer to Mr. Ramirez’s question as to who will pay for Ms. Harris’ health care plan is the same people who are paying for health care now. Sorry, there is no free lunch.

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