“But How Are You Going to Pay For It?”

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How much would Medicare for All cost if we made employers pay most of the bill, as they do now? Let’s take a horseback guess.

  • CMS estimates total health care spending in 2018 of $3.6 trillion.
  • About 55 percent, or $2 trillion, is covered by private sources, mainly corporations. The rest is already paid for by state and federal governments.
  • Of this, perhaps 20 percent would be paid by individuals in the form of copays. This is about the average for health care plans in other countries.
  • The total outlay for employers is therefore $1.6 trillion.
  • Approximately 112 million people are currently employed in large corporations.
  • That comes to $14,000 per employed person. Currently, large corporations pay about $10,000 per employee in health care costs.

There are several options left to us here:

  • We could make large corporations pay $14,000 per employee. They’d just have to suck it up.
  • We could keep them at their current rate of $10,000 and raise the remaining $400 billion elsewhere, perhaps from some combination of higher taxes on the wealthy and a small VAT.
  • We could make all but the very smallest employers pay a head tax. With a larger tax base, the cost per employee drops to $11,500 and there’s very little to make up.

This is rough, but it’s the basic lay of the land if we’re willing to make corporations continue to pay for health care at the same rate they pay now. They’d have no real beef since it would cost them nothing more and would free them from the overhead cost and hassle of dealing with health care. There’s also a strong chance that the head tax would rise more slowly than it does now, since government-run health programs almost invariably cap cost growth better than the private sector.

This is a slightly more detailed version of my post the other day asking, yet again, why Democrats don’t propose this as the funding mechanism for M4A. Other countries do this without a problem, and there’s no special reason we can’t do it too. It certainly makes it far easier to provide a cogent and popular answer when reporters ask, “But how are you going to pay for it?”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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