PRESS RELEASE: “Economic Analysis of the Medicare for All Act of 2017” Unveiled at Sanders Institute Gathering

“Economic Analysis of the Medicare for All Act of 2017”

Unveiled at Sanders Institute Gathering

Burlington, VERMONT (February 7, 2019) - Sanders Institute Fellows Michael Lighty and Robert Pollin answer the question on everyone’s mind about Medicare for All: How do we pay for it? From a gathering of progressives to the halls of Congress, they are offering a deep dive into the economics of guaranteeing universal health care through a single payer system.

When the Sanders Institute Gathering brought global leaders together to discuss progressive solutions to the most urgent issues of our time, Lighty and Pollin led a discussion, entitled “Medicare for All: How Do We Pay For It?” of Pollin’s independent in-depth research study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). Last week, Lighty and Pollin followed up by presenting their study at the Democratic Senators Annual Issues Conference.

The summary and full study are available on the PERI website and the Sanders Institute website. Peer-reviewed by a group of eminent experts on economics and health care, individual reviewer assessments can also be found on the PERI website. One reviewer, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, wrote "This study is the most comprehensive, detailed, authoritative study ever undertaken of Medicare for All, and it points powerfully and unassailably in support of Medicare for All."

Pollin and his PERI co-authors - James Heintz, Peter Arno, Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Michael Ash - show how, under Medicare for All, every resident of the U.S. can be guaranteed good-quality health care, while the system operates at an overall cost that is nearly 10% less than our current system.  

Under the current U.S. system, which absorbs 18% of U.S. GDP, nearly 30 million people remain uninsured and another 40 million are underinsured. This means that they forgo necessary treatments because they cannot afford to pay for them, despite the fact that they do have health insurance.   

In September 2017, Michael Lighty and RoseAnn DeMoro of National Nurses United proposed to Robert Pollin that the study be rigorously reviewed by a group of distinguished experts in the relevant fields. In the report, the economists outline seven major aspects of transforming the U.S. healthcare system, detailing step-by-step the actions needed to achieve truly universal health care, and its potential impacts on individuals, families, businesses and government.  

The study reflects the reality of every other similar economy in the world and considers in-depth how to provide a Just Transition to people now employed in the private health insurance industry, such as providing them with retraining, relocation, job placement, as well as direct financial support as the country moves away from our existing private health insurance system.

Because Medicare for All would cost nearly 10% less overall than the present U.S. system, that 10% savings can translate into health-care cost savings for both households and businesses.  The study shows that average businesses that are now covering their workers with insurance will save approximately 8%. The biggest winners will be middle-class households who now buy insurance on their own: these households will see a savings of 14% of their income.  That is, the net income of these families will rise by 14% through Medicare for All. On top of these cost savings, Medicare for All will mean that no one will ever have to hassle with an insurance company, cover their own copays or deductibles or face bankruptcy.

The analysis, which was in development for 18 months, has received praise from 11 distinguished experts in the fields of economics and healthcare studies who have rigorously reviewed the researchers’ findings:

In her review of the report, Alison Galvani, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis and Burnett and Stender Families’ Professor of Epidemiology at Yale University, states “This stellar economic analysis of a single-payer, universal health care system for the U.S. is the first to sufficiently document each step of the calculations, enabling reproducibility of the findings. It is also the first study that thoroughly addresses the transition to and financing of a universal health care system for the U.S.”

In his review of the report, William Hsiao, K.T. Li Professor of Economics at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study “presents an objective, unbiased, comprehensive and thorough economic analysis of Medicare for All. Professor Pollin and his co-authors have set a new high standard for transparency and clarity in presenting their analyses, estimations, and conclusions. The research methods they used to estimate both the cost increases and savings are sound. The assumptions they used to generate cost estimates are based on the latest empirical evidence. Consequently, the conclusions of this study on the overall costs and savings of Medicare for All are reasonable and scientifically sound.”

About the Sanders Institute

Founded in 2017 by Dr. Jane Sanders and David Driscoll, the mission of the Sanders Institute is to revitalize democracy by actively engaging individuals, organizations and the media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues. The Sanders Institute seeks to bring truth to the policy debate with rigorous research, innovative and common sense policy, presented in dialogue with a range of advocates in order to engage everyone in the issues that really matter., YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Shana Alexandria Frahm


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Shana Alexandria Frahm