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Medicare for All Won’t Kill Health Insurance Industry

Let the scaremongering begin.

Pundits and politicians who object to all Americans having access to health care are out in full force spreading misinformation they hope will stop the nascent push to pass some form of Medicare for All.

Besides complaints that Medicare for All will cost too much and result in higher taxes (factors which haven’t stopped every other industrialized nation on the Earth from implementing universal health care plans), Medicare for All opponents, like Starbucks former CEO and potential third-party spoiler Howard Shultz, say the plan will cost millions of jobs by wiping out the private health insurance market.

Democrats like Kamala Harris “say we should abolish the insurance industry as a way to go forward on healthcare, that alone would wipe out millions of jobs and that is a kind of extreme policy I would not agree with,” Schultz said on The View.

Hang on there, Skippy. Medicare for All would not “abolish the insurance industry.”

Today, health insurance companies rake in millions of dollars selling supplemental plans to Medicare recipients. And if Medicare for All were to pass they would continue to peddle their supplemental plans and continue to rake in millions.

If you are a senior on Medicare, you are all too familiar with those slick health insurance agents who cold call your phone every evening hoping to scare you into buying supplemental health insurance, and warning you about the catastrophic medical expenses you will incur if you get sick or become hospitalized and only have Medicare coverage.

These supplemental plans are often unnecessary, but that does not stop companies from scaring millions of Americans into purchasing them. As Medicare expert David Belk, MD, points out, “If Medicare doesn’t cover a service, in most cases, a supplemental policy won’t cover that service either…The supplemental plans are really just insurance to cover the insurance you already have. How does that make any sense at all?”

And yet millions of Americans today purchase supplemental health insurance. If Medicare for All were implemented, those Americans who can afford it will continue to purchase supplemental plans, just as they do in Canada where Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs. In fact, some 75 percent of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance and many of them receive it through their employers.

Oh, and the Canadian health insurance industry is doing just fine.

And of course, those who cannot afford supplemental plans will, at least, have basic Medicare coverage, which is more than many of them have now.

Even the radical far right Washington Examiner had to admit that: “[T]here’s a limited claim that can be made that in theory, [US Senator Bernie Sanders’] bill, after getting rid of all existing policies, would allow private insurers to offer some supplemental benefits.

So yes, the health insurance industry will do just fine.

Medicare for All might cost as few insurance jobs, but we would gain access to health care for tens of  millions of Americans who now lack coverage or who have inadequate coverage.

To sum up: the healthcare companies will do fine. It’s the tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured we should be worrying about.