Gabriel Becerra is a third year International Affairs and Public Policy student here at UCR. He participates in several political student organizations with the most time spent with YDSA which meets every Thursday.
It’s that simple. Bernie Sanders, the most favorably viewed U.S. senator, has the best plan to have the U.S. join the rest of the developed world in having universal health care. Universal health care coverage, dubbed as “Medicare for All” under the Sanders’ banner, polls favorably with majority support even when painted as socialized medicine; its connotation aligns more closely to the U.K. model where the state runs every aspect of the health care sector. The U.K.’s “big scary socialist” model holds a favorability rating of 54% satisfaction with 22% dissatisfaction. Compare this to the U.S. where our current health care system has an almost inverse result with 20% satisfaction and a staggering 50% dissatisfaction.
Seeing as the most important issue for primary voters is addressing the health care crisis in the United States, Americans have acknowledged the dire situation that is our health care system and as a result are in favor of implementing “Medicare for All.” There are many differences between the U.K. system and the U.S. one, but of those two that stand out are cost and the concept of universality.
By now you have most likely come to the realization that health care in the U.S. is expensive, but you may not realize that it is more than twice as expensive when compared to other developed countries. In 2017, the expenditure per capita spent on health care in the U.S. was $10,224. Compare this to other developed countries like France and the U.K. where not only are health care outcomes generally better (evidenced in metrics such as a lower infant mortality rate and higher success rates in preventative care) but the cost of them is less than half in either, $4,902 and $4,246 respectively. This is despite having better outcomes and universal coverage within their borders. The next question is why. The answer to this is complicated and has more than a few explainers but the common theme among them is the concept of universality.
Universality is the concept in which all parties within a country participate within a sector and therefore all parties hold a stake in advocating for the success of the sector. Countries with this approach to social programs have seen widespread success in the level of quality provided by these systems. Finland is regarded to have the best education system in the world by many different measures, largely in part because the government outright banned private institutions from participating in the education sector.
When you force the wealthiest and most privileged to participate in the well-being and success of a public good it comes as no surprise that these programs flourish. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate looking to move the country towards a true universal health care system by calling for the abolishment of the private health care insurance industry. No other candidate has had the political courage to call out the problem where it truly lay: in the diametrical corruption and lecherous greed of the private health insurance industry. The private health care industry in the U.S. acts as a parasitic middleman, siphoning money into the pockets of wealthy oligarchs that would otherwise go to lowering health care costs and broadening health care coverage.
Warren, the only other candidate to claim support for Sen. Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, has since waffled on her support for the bill instead claiming to support a much more conservative approach to instituting universal coverage. She claims that she can implement universal coverage by passing two seperate bills through a senate that will most likely remain in the hands of Mitch McConnell.
While Sanders’ bill also faces the same obstacle it would be foolish to start from a weaker position and already be making concessions before even coming to the table. In a sense, Warren seems eager to make the same mistake Barack Obama made by showing her eagerness to compromise instead of taking the hardline approach in advocating for the United States to join the rest of the developed world in guaranteeing health care as universal human right. Only Bernie Sanders has shown that he has the political courage to stand up to both the private health care industry and Republicans alike.