A group of 17 Senators led by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill calling for “Medicare for All” this week, a position supported by over 50 percent of Americans, according to an Economist/YouGuv poll from this year. With the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress opposed, it’s unlikely to advance, but top officials have nonetheless come out firmly against the idea.
That’s despite the fact that increased government involvement in health care around the world has actually been shown to both improve outcomes and bring down costs.
At her briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I can’t think of anything worse than having government more involved in your healthcare.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweet
And on Thursday, President Trump called the idea of single-payer health care “a curse on the U.S. and its people” and pledged to veto any version of the bill that reached his desk.
Trump has not been consistent on this point. As Twitter user Jordan Uhl pointed out, in President Trump’s 2000 book, “The America we deserve,” he strongly espoused the opposite opinion, writing, “We must have universal healthcare.”
Regardless, his administration’s current negativity isn’t supported by the data. Countries with some version of “Medicare for all,” single-payer or universal coverage all outperform the U.S. They deliver better results and do so at a lower cost.
According to a 2017 analysis of 11 rich, Western countries by the Commonwealth Fund, America comes in 11th.
In their report, the Fund writes: “We find that U.S. health care system performance ranks last among 11 high-income countries. … These results are troubling because the U.S. has the highest per capita health expenditures of any country and devotes a larger percentage of its GDP to health care than any other country.”
America’s dismal performance comes for a very specific reason, the Fund reports: The U.S. comes up short because “it is the only high-income country lacking universal health insurance coverage.”
A striking example is that American women have a mortality risk that’s three times higher than English women, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. And, while labor and delivery is vastly safer in Liverpool than it is in Louisiana, it’s also vastly cheaper there.
In U.S. dollars, it costs $2,300 on average for a vaginal delivery or planned C-section in the U.K., or $3,400 for a more complicated procedure. By contrast, in America it costs more than 10 times as much — $30,000 for the former and $50,000 for the latter — all for worse outcomes.