Koch-funded study admits Medicare for All would save trillions

The study was intended to make Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All proposal look unattainable, but even cursory analysis shows that the study's estimated cost for the proposal is still at least $1.4 trillion cheaper than what our current system will cost over the next 10 years.

Will Caron

A study released this morning by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center claims that a Bernie Sanders-style Medicare for All plan would cost approximately $32.6 trillion over 10 years. The Mercatus Center has received millions of dollars in funding from right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch. The study is clearly aimed at throwing doubt over whether or not we can afford the cost of such a proposal, but the problem is, even by the most conservative estimates—including the ones in this study—our current health insurance and health care system will still cost more money.

In 2016, the United States spent $3.4 trillion on healthcare; projected over ten years—and assuming costs don’t rise, as they’re expected to—that’s $34 trillion. What’s more, by 2025, the current for-profit healthcare system is expected to cost a staggering $5.5 trillion per year. This means that, even if the Koch-funded study is accurate in its $32.6 trillion estimate for Medicare for All (which Sen. Sanders has already said is inflated), we would still end up saving $1.4 trillion at a minimum while insuring tens of millions more Americans and providing better health outcomes overall.

These soaring costs are a major reason most Americans—both Democrats and Republicans—now support a Medicare for All-type system.

In response to the study, Sen. Sanders said in an AP article, “This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers’ response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for All’ program.”

“Even if you take the report’s headline figures at face value, the picture it paints is that of an enormous bargain,” said Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project. “We get to insure every single person in the country…and save everyone from the hell of constantly changing health insurance all while saving money. You would have to be a fool to pass that offer up.”

“If every major country on Earth can guarantee healthcare to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same,” Sen. Sanders concluded. It appears that, once the numbers are crunched, even a conservative policy center like Mercatus can’t argue with that.