Bernie Sanders’ version of Medicare for All would eliminate private insurance

April 11, 2019

Bernie Sanders’ revamped healthcare plan will eliminate private health insurance.

In a Tuesday interview with CBS, Bernie Sanders said that private companies would cover “cosmetic surgery” and nothing more under his Medicare for All plan. Healthcare would be provided by the government.

Polls have shown that Americans’ support for Medicare for All plunges when they learn it would entail eliminating private insurance.

Nixing private health insurance

As he embarks on another bid for president, the Vermont senator has emerged as a frontrunner in a packed field of progressives who are adopting ideas that Sanders, widely seen as the patriarch of the modern progressive movement, helped launch into the mainstream. Democrats who embrace Medicare for All are facing tough questions about how they would pay for and implement the program, which would likely cost in the trillions of dollars.

Sanders, who introduced his Medicare for All bill this week, went on CBS to answer questions about the scope and cost of his policy. When CBS’s Ed O’Keefe asked Sanders about the trillion-dollar price tag, Sanders denied the exorbitant cost and responded that Americans are already spending more per capita on healthcare than “any other nation.”

The problem, Sanders said, could be fixed by eliminating for-profit healthcare.

“What our system does is get rid of insurance companies and drug companies making billions of dollars in profit every single year,” Sanders said.

“And what happens to those insurance companies after your plan is implemented?” O’Keefe responded.

“If you want cosmetic surgery — under Medicare for all, we cover all basic health care need. I suppose if you want to make yourself look a little bit more beautiful, work on that nose or your ears, they can do that.”

O’Keefe replied, “So basically BlueCross BlueShield would be reduced to nose jobs.”

“Something like that, yeah,” Sanders said.

Bernie sets Medicare for All standard

Long disparaged as a socialist pipe dream, Medicare for All has become the center of national debate. Sanders’ Wednesday rollout of his updated Medicare for All Bill marks the first concrete proposal in the Democratic primary race, and it sets the standard for Medicare for All with its plan for a rapid, total transition to government-run healthcare in four years. Sanders’ plan is pure socialized medicine: no private health insurance and comprehensive, universal government coverage, including dental, vision, and long-term care.

Contrary to what Sanders said, eliminating for-profit insurance would not make health care cheaper or “free” — it would just lead to tax hikes to pay for its estimated $25 to $35 trillion dollar cost. Besides the exorbitant price tag, skeptics have doubts about the quality of care. Those who are doubtful of Sanders’ plan need only look across the pond for a case study: citizens under government-run systems like Britain’s National Health Service suffer with rationed and delayed care. For example, the NHS has rationed cataract surgery to cut costs. Hundreds of Britons have reportedly gone blind each year while waiting for eye treatment.

No wonder that Democrats are getting cold feet. All the Democrat senators running for president, including Kamala Harris (CA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (MA), have embraced universal health care at least in name, but few are willing to go as far as Sanders to make it a reality.

Sanders, the progressive patriarch who shepherded Medicare for all from the fringe to the mainstream, is so far the only Democrat advocating a pure Medicare for All policy. Harris, Booker, Warren, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) endorsed Sanders’ bill, but all have said they support less ambitious, incremental plans that involve expanding Medicaid and Medicare and retaining private health insurance, at least temporarily. Harris came close to the fringe earlier this year when she suggested eliminating private health insurance before backtracking.

The caution felt among Democrats isn’t off base. While Americans warmed up to Medicare for All over the last two years, polls show that doubts linger when the details are filled in. Medicare for All support plunges when respondents are told that it would eliminate private health insurance, prolong wait times and raise taxes.

Despite public opinion and readily available Medicare for All horror stories, Sanders has been fairly transparent about his plans to eliminate private insurance. And while he’s the most extreme Democrat on health care, Sanders is also the frontrunner in the Democratic race, boasting higher poll numbers and more money raised than all declared candidates. What does that mean for his party?


Add your best email address below to start receiving news alerts.

Privacy Policy

Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.