What Really Is Medicare for All?
What Really Is Medicare for All?
Many Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning on changing the healthcare system that we know today to Medicare For All. What will ultimately be seen greatly depends on who's elected and how negotiations pan out. Some candidates want to keep Medicare as it is but allow individuals under age 65 the option to enroll in it. Other candidates want to have Medicare be the single payer of healthcare costs and eliminate private insurance carriers.
In April of 2019, Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) introduced a revamped Medicare for All bill that was co-sponsored by 13 other senators, including multiple candidates that are running against him in the 2020 democratic primary. His proposed plan aims to expand national healthcare to all American and naturalized citizens, something that for the time being only benefits those over 65 or with permanent disability. It would give millions of people access to affordable healthcare which presently they do not have.
It would involve:
- Coverage for virtually all Americans to Medicare, rather than through employer coverage—which currently about half of all Americans have access to.
- Plans covered under Indian Health Service and Veterans Health Administration remaining in place.
- The banning of private policies that sell the same benefits as Medicare, which essentially eliminates privates insurance companies.
What Would Medicare for All Cover?
While we may not come to see this form of Medicare in 2020, there may yet be a future for it. The way it looks now, many of the added benefits resemble a mixture of current Medicare coverage and care provided through Medicaid. The following services would be covered under Bernie Sander's proposed bill:
- Hospital inpatient and outpatient services;
- Primary and preventative care;
- Treatment for mental health and substance abuse, including short-term rehab;
- Reproductive care, including maternity;
- Prescription medication and medical devices;
- Transportation for low-income and disabled patients to receive services;
- Pediatric medicine and newborn care;
- Ambulance transport;
- Dental, hearing, and vision care;
- Lab and diagnostics; and
- Home and community-based long-term care.
How Might Medicare for All Benefit Current Medicare Recipients?
Change is a common part of one's year-to-year dealings with Medicare, and everyone would like these shifts to be as simple and easy to navigate as possible. You can rest assured that since most candidates plans includes a multiple year transition period, this proposed plan, if passed, is not projected to affect anyone's Medicare 2020 benefits.
The question remains, though: What are the ways in which Medicare for All could benefit senior citizens who are already satisfied with their Medicare coverage?
Bernie Sander's new plan would:
- Cover services presently unavailable in most Medicare plans such as vision and dental;
- Expand long-term care for those that require in-home or communal residential care;
- Aside from cost-sharing for prescriptions, up to $200 a year, there would be no additional premiums or copayments.
- All Medicare recipients would be able to see any provider and would not be bound to a network.
What Will Make Medicare For All Law?
Even if the plan passes the House of Representatives, it must pass the Senate as well, which is currently majority-Republican, and support for Medicare for All is not strong within the Republican party. Some cite cost and a lack of choice as major flaws within the program. Voices of support for the policy from their voting base can sway many, and then this would finally have to pass the desk of the President of the United States to be written into law. For Medicare recipients in New Jersey, such a change may still be a few years ahead yet.