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Medicare for all would save 68,000 lives a year

Written by Diane Archer

New research by Yale Professor Alison P. Galvani et al., published in The Lancet, concludes that Medicare for All could guarantee health care for everyone in the US at far less overall cost than we spend today. The research adds to a body of 22 other studies which also conclude that Medicare for All saves money. As important, Galvani’s team finds that Medicare for All would save 68,000 lives a year.

The researchers project a 13 percent savings in national health expenditures from Medicare for All. Put differently, we would spend about $450 billion a year less on health care each year. The analysis considers the costs associated with extending coverage to 37 million without health insurance and 41 million with inadequate coverage.

Going from a multi-payer system to a single-payer system would save doctors and hospitals a lot of time and money. They would be relieved of many administrative headaches. And, doctors would be able to spend more time with their patients.

In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Galvani explains that Medicare’s administrative overhead is nearly 10 percent less than private health insurance overhead, 2.2 percent v. 12 percent respectively. Eliminating private health insurance would therefore save $200 billion a year in insurer overhead alone. In 2019, the private health insurance industry made $100 billion in profits.

In addition, Galvani explains that a public option, what Pete Buttigieg calls “Medicare for all who want it,” does not save money. The exorbitant administrative overhead costs of the private insurers remain. It is inefficient and expensive, costing $175 billion more a year than what we currently spend. And, it costs $600 billion more a year than Medicare for All.

Galvani’s team calculated that Medicare for All would save 68,000 lives a year based on data revealing that people without health insurance have 40 times higher mortality rates than people with decent health insurance. The team did not factor in additional lives saved as a result of the fact that 41 million additional people would no longer be underinsured.

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