The nation’s leading political fact-checker has debunked Hillary Clinton’s recent attacks on Bernie Sanders’ healthcare plan.
According to Politifact’s recent analysis of Bernie Sanders’ proposal to expand Medicare to all Americans under his “Medicare for All” single-payer healthcare system, Sanders’ plan would save the average household between $505 and $1,823 per year — just shy of a $1,200 average cost savings.
While this figure is lower than the Sanders campaign’s estimate of $3,855 to $5,173 in savings, it still means American families will pay less under single-payer healthcare than they currently do under the Affordable Care Act.
Sanders’ plan is modeled after single-payer legislation he introduced in 2013, which outlines how the plan would be implemented and paid for on a nationwide scale. First, Sanders would impose a 6.7 percent payroll tax on employers, along with a 2.2 percent healthcare tax on those making less than $250,000 per year.
Sanders includes higher percentages for incomes above $250,000 in his legislation (the richest 2 percent of the U.S. population) and a 5.4 percent surcharge on the wealthiest Americans whose modified adjusted gross income is above $1,000,000 (literally less than 1 percent of Americans). Sanders’ bill also includes a 0.02 percent financial transactions tax on Wall Street trading.
So what are Americans getting in return for all these new taxes? As it turns out, quite a lot.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign claims the small amount of money Americans will pay in these new healthcare taxes will mean a $0 cost for all healthcare premiums, deductibles, and even copays. Using today’s median income of $50,000, the Sanders campaign made the below chart to illustrate how much the average family would save under both Sanders’ healthcare plan compared to Clinton’s plan:
The Sanders campaign used 2015 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation to estimate current private health insurance costs, and says the cost savings listed would likely be even greater, as the plan is based on taxable income, rather than total income.
Sanders also claims that the 6.6 percent payroll tax on employers would mean additional savings for businesses, as the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the average business pays $12,591 in healthcare contributions for a worker making $50,000. A 6.6 percent payroll tax cuts the employer contribution down to $3,350 — a savings of over $9,000.
Politifact estimates that the new taxes Sanders imposes would mean the richest Americans would fund single-payer healthcare with $117 billion per year, while the other 95 percent of Americans would pay a combined $126 billion. Another $432 billion would come from the new payroll taxes.
Going by 2008 numbers, economist Dean Baker estimated that a 0.02 percent financial transactions tax would bring in $177 billion per year, accounting for the decline in trading volume expected from the imposition of such a tax. That means an estimated $852 billion in new revenue would be made available to fund single-payer healthcare under the Sanders plan.
While 2013 healthcare costs exceeded $1.2 trillion, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Sanders says his plan will lower healthcare costs considerably as the government will be in a better position to negotiate costs with healthcare providers, providing for additional savings.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst health economist Gerald Friedman confirmed that the Sanders plan, with a little refining, would be able to provide comprehensive healthcare to all Americans and still generate an annual surplus of $5.1 billion.
The numbers confirm it — even with the new taxes, American families and businesses would save thousands of dollars under Bernie Sanders’ healthcare plan. Hillary Clinton should go over her numbers again before she criticizes Berniecare.
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