What You Should Know About Bernie Sanders's Single-Payer Health Care Bill

It’s no secret that Republicans have wanted the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced, but since Trump has taken office they’ve been unsuccessful. Senator Bernie Sanders has advocated for universal health care from the beginning, and the chances of this happening are beginning to rise. In early September, Sanders unveiled a Medicare-for-All bill with 15 Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate (that’s kind of a lot). However, because both chambers are majority Republican and Trump is in office, it’s not likely the bill will gain enough support currently to become law, but the proposal is being backed by front-runners for 2020 which is a good sign that the party is slowly moving toward support for a universal health care system. But exactly what did Senator Sanders propose?

The government already guarantees health care to anyone over the age of 65 (Medicare), so basically Sanders’s bill proposes extending those benefits to all Americans, and expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing care as well. Ideally, this would all happen over four years. The first year, everyone under 18 and over 55 would be covered; then expand to everyone over 45 over the next year, everyone over 35 in the third year, and finally cover every U.S citizen after the fourth year. With this bill, the government will also be able to negotiate fair prices with drug companies to make prescriptions more affordable for Americans. There will be no more fighting with insurance companies, no more co-pays and no more deductibles.

Courtesy: The New York Times

The bill would save the typical middle-class family over $5,000 a year, businesses would save over $9,400 a year in health care costs for the average employee, and this plan will cost $6 trillion less than the current health care system. Almost every high-profile Democratic senator rumored to be running in 2020 has joined Sanders as a co-sponsor. It seems as though Americans, in general, are warming up to the idea of a single-payer system. In this NY Times article, Sanders’s a poll taken by the Economist/YouGov, stating that, “60 percent of the American people want to expand Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.” That 60 percent includes 75 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Independents, and 46 percent of Republicans.

This health plan bill is estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year, as opposed to the $3 trillion we currently spend. The plan would be fully paid for by several ways:

  • A 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers
  • A 2.2 percent income-based premium paid by households
  • Progressive income taxes

While “Progressive Income Taxes” looks a little scary, only households making over $250k a year will be taxed more. On paper, the bill seems like a good idea. Americans have a right to affordable healthcare and Bernie wants to make that possible.

Courtesy: Jacobin Magazine

More details on the bill can be found on Bernie Sanders's website here.