By David Flemming
Once again, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has decided to beat the drum for single-payer healthcare. Will he ever realize he’s beating a dead horse?
Single-payer failed in Vermont, the first state to actively pursue the policy, in 2014 after it became obvious to nearly everyone that any plan to pay for the program was totally unrealistic.
Single-payer failed in Colorado, where citizens rejected it by a 4-to-1 margin.
Single-payer failed in California after the bill was tabled by Democratic leadership because lawmakers in one of the country’s most progressive states couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Scarily, the Assembly Democratic Caucus released a statement: “we have become alarmed and disheartened by bullying tactics, threats of violence, and death threats” they have received since ending the effort.
But Sanders isn’t one to let failure at the state level distract him from making bigger promises – failure at the national level!
He begins his proposal by saying, “other industrialized nations are making the morally principled and financially responsible decision to provide universal health care to all of their people.” Even the New York Times isn’t letting Sanders get away with this one: “A vanishingly small number of countries actually have single-payer systems…In countries like Canada – the system most similar to the one that Mr. Sanders seeks to create – private corporations provide insurance for services that fall outside of government guarantees. And these guaranteed benefits are substantially more limited than those in the Sanders proposal.”
The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank, estimates that 41,838 Canadians sought medical treatment abroad (many of whom chose their nearest neighbor the US) in 2014, a number that increased 25 percent in 2015 to 52,513. Sanders might have done better than to model his healthcare system off of a country that relies upon its inhabitants leaving their country in order to get better healthcare.
Sanders proposal would force a new 6.2 percent tax on employers and a 2.2 percent tax on households. He tries to make the case that families earning less than $28,200 would not be hit by a tax increase, but even poor families would be adversely affected in other ways. Analysis by the left-leaning think tank Urban Institute finds that after employers pay the 6.2 percent tax “this would ultimately be shifted back onto employees—including low-income employees—in the form of lower wages. Thus, low-income workers, like other workers, would in fact bear some of the costs of financing the plan.”
And, even these massive tax increases would not be enough to pay for Sanderscare. According to the Urban Institute, the whopping $15.3 trillion in new taxes is not even half of the amount needed to finance the plan, $28.9 trillion from 2017 through 2026
So, just to recap, Sanders wants us to emulate a deficient healthcare system using $15 trillion in new taxes to do it, and even that wouldn’t be enough to pay for even half of his scheme. We already know that the concept proved impossibly unpopular in two of the most left leaning states in the union (Vermont and California) and a key swing state (Colorado). Does this strike anyone else as not a good idea on any level?
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.