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Medicare for All lowers taxes for most Americans

Written by Diane Archer

Emanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, economics professors at UC Berkeley, report in The Guardian that Medicare for All–a public health insurance program, which Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both support–would lower taxes for most Americans and lead to a big pay raise for many Americans as well. (Note: Warren’s financing plan imposes no taxes on middle class Americans; it puts their share of insurance premiums back in their pockets.)

Saez and Zucman explain that no matter how you do the financing around Medicare for All, because it saves so much money, it does not raise taxes. They argue that in order to talk about health care in America, you need to start with its huge cost, 20 percent of GDP. With Medicare for All, the cost of health care for the vast majority of Americans comes down.

Health insurance premiums are equivalent to taxes, only they are paid to corporate health insurers instead of the federal government. People or their employers must pay these premiums. Unlike choice of restaurants or clothing, where you can pick lower cost options or forgo it, you cannot (or should not) do so with health care or health insurance. Health care is like education. Everyone needs it, and for that reason other countries pay for it through taxation.

In the US, working people are charged a fixed rate for their health care–based on a variety of factors including age and geography–which Saez and Emanuel call a poll tax. Health insurance costs are not based on ability to pay as they are in other wealthy nations.  Rather, they are regressive. In fact, once you add in the cost of health care, the US tax system overall is “highly regressive.” It’s about 30 percent for the lower-income earners, 40 percent for the middle-income earners and 23 percent for billionaires. CEOs pay the same amount for their health insurance as their secretaries.

The health care system in the US is unsustainable. Medicare for All would end the poll tax and establish a progressive tax. Consequently, workers would benefit substantially through increased income. For example, if you earned $50,000 a year and had employer coverage, the $15,000 or so your employer pays for your health insurance would increase your income to $65,000. Your health insurance tax, based on ability to pay, would be $4,000, leaving you with $61,000 in come, ahead by $11,000 a year.

You can visit TaxJusticeNow.org, a web site with a tax calculator that Saez and Zucman developed, to see how you would fare financially with Medicare for All. You could see how different Democratic presidential candidates’ tax plans would affect low-, middle- and high-income people’s tax rates. With Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, only the bottom 90-plus percent of income earners would benefit financially.

If you support Medicare for all, please let Congress know. Please sign this petition.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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