Bernie Sanders’ Health Care Plan Via Medicare Loses Trillions? ‘Berniecare,’ Economic Idea Has Critics Fact Checking

According to critical fact checkers, Bernie Sanders’ health care plan may not be as great as advertised. The proposition is that the United States get rid of the private health insurance industry completely in favor of providing Medicare for all, but at least analysis of the numbers indicates the so-called Berniecare health care plan may actually cost the average American more money in addition to costing trillions more than estimated.

In January, the Bernie campaign released a press statement that made it clear from the start that the Vermont senator wants to turn Obamacare into full universal health care provided through a single payer: the U.S. government.

“Universal health care is an idea that has been supported in the United States by Democratic presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman,” Sanders said. “It is time for our country to join every other major industrialized nation on earth and guarantee health care to all citizens as a right, not a privilege.”

As a single payer system, Bernie’s health care plan would greatly expand upon the Affordable Care Act by replacing the health insurance industry, but the delivery of health care would still be with private doctors, hospitals, and companies. The statements claims “patients would be able to choose their own doctors and receive comprehensive care for everything from hospital stays to emergency room visits to primary and specialty care.”

Buttons proclaim support for Bernie Sanders.
Buttons proclaim support for Bernie Sanders. [Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]
Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is largely responsible for guiding Sanders’ policies. He claims the Medicare For All plan would save $6 trillion over 10 years. The economist also claims Bernie’s financial policies as a whole would “result in average annual output growth of 5.3 percent over the next decade, and average monthly job creation of close to 300,000. As a result, output in 2026 would be 37 percent higher than it would have been without the policies, and employment would be 16 percent higher.”

Christina and David Romer are Professors of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and they claim “careful examination of Friedman’s work confirms the old adage, ‘if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.'” The authors note that Friedman assumes the U.S. economy will continue to perform “dramatically below its productive capacity” and even if the 37 percent number was realistic, the Federal Reserve would change interest rates in order to preserve balanced growth.

In the end, they found Friedman’s estimates to be “implausibly large but literally incredible” based upon the data. It’s also believe the overall net impact could potentially be harmful to the United States economy.

“The overall effects of Senator Sanders’s policies on the growth of productive capacity are at best likely to be small. The features of his proposals that increase normal growth are themselves probably small, and the features that may reduce normal growth are many. Indeed, it is not out of the question that the net impact of the policies on the growth of productive capacity would be negative.”

Berniecare does not work out much better based upon the fact checking by critics. Kenneth Thorpe, a public-health expert at Emory University, claims at least 72 percent of working households (about 14.5 million people) enrolled in Medicaid would not benefit from Bernie’s plan, since the cost of the plan would exceed the benefits. Thorpe says lower income Americans living in poverty would be affected negatively in addition to households living modestly better.

“The vast majority of low-income Medicaid workers, who are probably predominantly minority, are going to end up paying more in terms of payroll taxes, and aren’t going to receive really any financial benefits,” said Thorpe, according to the Washington Post.

In addition, Thorpe believes the cost of Berniecare is being underestimated by about $1.1 trillion a year. Once the increased cost is accounted for, the number of poor households negatively impacted by the plan would increase to 16.8 million people.

What do you think about Bernie Sanders’ health care plan?

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sander, Democratic presidential candidate [Photo By Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]
(Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)