A recent online article in Newsweek made the interesting claim that “If everyone in the U.S. was on Medicare, the savings would move the federal budget from deficit to surplus.”
Being a military brat, and career military after that, I’ve spent my whole life in a “single payer” environment. I loved it. These days, as a Medicare-eligible, TRICARE-eligible, working civilian with employer-provided health insurance, I’m in much the same situation. I think that’s pretty good, as well, except that the paperwork has grown, from zero, to WTF? I found the quality of care from the military doctors to be as good, or better, than I’m getting now. Doctors are doctors.
The article started me thinking about what it would cost to extend the US military health care system to the rest of the population. I did some very quick, very sloppy, digging around. I found numbers and estimates (about half Wikipedia and half official handouts) of annual costs that are more-or-less comparable. Here’s my summary:
US Military, including reservists, dependents, etc: 10 million
US DoD Medical Spending: $53 billion
VA-enrolled Veterans: 10 million
VA Medical Spending: $50 billion
Total People: 20 million
Total Spending: $103 billion
Average Spending Per Person: $5150
Average US Medical Spending Per Person: $8000
Even if I’m off by as much as 50%, extending military health benefits to the entire population would still be cheaper than what the “free market” has foisted on us. And zero paperwork. Of course, that might impact recruiting.
So, yeah. Medicare for all, and maybe something better.