As we all grapple with the growing spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy — as well as our daily lives — never before has an argument for Medicare for All been stronger.
But while those on the right are quick to impugn single-payer healthcare as some job-killing nightmare, the experts vigorously disagree.
According to the Economic Policy Insitute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank, a national program that guarantees health insurance for every American would certainly adversely affect the total number of jobs in the U.S. economy. On the contrary, Medicare for All could boost wages and jobs, leading to more efficient labor markets that better match jobs and workers.
The EPI breaks down the benefits of such reform:
- Boost wages and salaries by allowing employers to redirect money they are spending on health care costs to their workers’ wages.
- Increase job quality by ensuring that every job now comes bundled with a guarantee of health care—with the boost to job quality even greater among women workers, who are less likely to have employer-sponsored health care.
- Lessen the stress and economic shock of losing a job or moving between jobs by eliminating the loss of health care that now accompanies job losses and transitions.
- Support self-employment and small business development—which is currently super low in the U.S. relative to other rich countries—by eliminating the daunting loss of/cost of health care from startup costs.
- Inject new dynamism and adaptability into the overall economy by reducing “job lock”—with workers going where their skills and preferences best fit the job, not just to workplaces (usually large ones) that have affordable health plans.
- Produce a net increase in jobs as public spending boosts aggregate demand, with job losses in health insurance and billing administration being outweighed by job gains in provision of health care, including the expansion of long-term care.
While some are correct to point out that Medicare for All would result in the loss of jobs of those working in the insurance industry, like billing doctor office visits, 2020 Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders and former candidate Elizabeth Warren both discussed a “just transition” for those working in that industry to the public sector.