With the Democratic primary now a dead heat between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, the government-run healthcare system the candidates are proposing, to minimally varying degrees, deserves a hard look. Many modern Democrats view these policies as “free” healthcare; yet, what is being proposed is the most aggressive expansion of government—i.e. Medicare—in our nation’s history and is universes away from free.
The first two parts of Medicare are Part A which is hospital insurance, and Part B which is Medical insurance. As a senior, you were forced over the years to pay into the system with only the hope that one day you would receive a benefit. How much exactly did you pay? Well, you had to pay 2.9 percent of your wages or net income for a minimum of ten years. For Americans earning the median wage of approximately $48,000 over the course of a forty-year career you paid more than $55,000 into Medicare before getting a penny of benefit back.
According to the 2017 statistics from Medicare.gov the average senior in good health spent approximately $635 a month in healthcare expenses. This adds up to $7,620 a year—a staggering 42% of the average annual Social Security retirement benefit paid to a retiree. And that is if you are in good health. For patients with health issues that cost can rise to upwards of $12,000 a year, or 66% of their average annual retirement benefit.
Let’s be clear, that is far from free.
Shockingly, the hefty price tag of DMV-style healthcare doesn’t even scratch the surface of its fatal flaws. Under the government-controlled model, physicians are forced to deal with mountains of paperwork that must be filled out perfectly in order to receive payment for the services they’ve already provided. More terrifying from a patient perspective is the fact that the government has a track record of refusing to pay for services if the physician doesn’t provide the services in exactly the manner the government has mandated. Goodbye personalized healthcare and the patient-doctor relationship.
America is already facing physician shortages which is and will continue to impact the ability to serve our aging population; however, as a practicing physician, and the spouse of a practicing physician, I can assure you that many of my colleagues will leave the profession if faced with the burdensome regulations and low payment rates of a Medicare for All program.
Medicare currently serves 60 million Americans and takes up twenty percent of the federal budget. Adding the remaining two hundred and seventy million Americans to the Medicare rolls, by multiplication, will take one hundred and ten percent of our current federal budget. In fact, when you combine Democrats’ healthcare proposals with their other spending proposals such as the Green New Deal and other similarly radical proposals, the total cost over ten years, according to the Atlantic, skyrockets to more than $60 trillion and more than doubles the size of the federal government.
A reasonable question to ask given this massive expansion of government is how the Democrats plan to pay for their fringe proposals. Assuming they even answer the question (many of them refuse to do so), you will necessarily hear them blustering on about the need to increase taxes. Take Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders for example, amongst his massive tax increase proposals is a 4 percent Medicare tax increase on families earning more than $29,000 a year, while also hitting their employers with and additional 7.5 percent tax increase for Medicare. Instead of the current 2.9 percent tax rate for Medicare, Bernie’s plan would tax your paycheck at a mind-boggling 14.4 percent.
Surely the government taking the equivalent of one-seventh of every Americans’ income would be enough to pay for the Democrats’ big government plans, right? Think again.
Under a Sanders presidency, business tax rates would skyrocket to the highest in the developed world, the Death Tax would be re-instituted forcing families to sell generations old farms just to afford the tax, the capital gains tax would be supercharged, effectively crushing the incentive to invest in the stock market, and yes, the personal income tax would be grow exponentially to a top rate of 52%.
A President Sanders or Biden would almost assuredly kill the very tax reforms that, under President Trump, have created 7 million new middle class jobs, kickstarted wage growth for lower and middle class Americans like we haven’t seen in generations, and generated a historic booming economy.
With Obamacare, Americans were promised that our premiums would “go down by $2,500 per family” and “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.” That turned out to be a lie. Now with Democrats’ government-run healthcare programs Americans are being told health care will be “free.” Let’s save ourselves the trouble and recognize that there’s simply no such thing as free, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
Dr. Kelli Ward is a family physician, two-term Arizona state senator, and the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arizona. On Twitter: @KelliWardAZ.