Nov 1, 2019

How middle class workers will pay for Medicare for All

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's newly released plan to pay for Medicare for All leaves the middle class financially better off than they are today, but it's not true to say that they won't pay for it at all, experts say.

Between the lines: Employers will directly pay for Medicare for All, and economists predict that this will get passed onto workers through reduced wages — just as employers' costs for private health insurance are passed on today.

Warren's plan, released this morning, would take aggressive health care cost containment measures, lowering its price tag to the federal government.

  • But she still needs to raise $20.5 trillion over a decade — which she says she does with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases."

Reality check: This becomes an issue of semantics. It's true that the middle class won't directly pay any new taxes. And they won't have to pay the individual premiums and out-of-pocket costs that they pay now.

  • But Warren would redirect the trillions of dollars projected to be spent by employers on private health insurance into Medicare for All contributions — which would be collected as taxes.
  • These employers currently pay a portion of workers' premiums, but it's widely assumed by economists that workers ultimately pay for these costs through lower wages.
  • So whether employers are paying a premium contribution or a tax — and Warren's plan is designed for the shift to slightly save money for employers — it's assumed that employees ultimately bear the cost.
  • However, the $11 trillion over 10 years that Americans are expected to pay in individual premium contributions and out-of-pocket spending would disappear, leaving the middle class ultimately better off.

Yes, but: There's plenty of skepticism about Warren's math and some of her revenue streams.

  • And whether her plan would actually improve the health care system — especially in the way she would squeeze various payments to health care industries — is another question. Subscribe to Axios Vitals for more on that on Monday.

Go deeper: Warren releases Medicare for All plan

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Sanders calls his Medicare for All plan "far more" progressive than Warren's

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders defended his Medicare for All plan on the campaign trail in Iowa, telling ABC News that it's "much more progressive in terms of protecting the financial well being of middle income families" than Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan, which she unveiled last week.

Why it matters: Warren has frequently said she's "with Bernie" on Medicare for All, but the health care truce between two of the most progressive candidates in the race seemingly broke with Warren's newly released plan.

Go deeperArrowNov 3, 2019

Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" requires another $20.5 trillion of federal spending

Elizabeth Warren at a rally. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released her long-awaited plan to pay for "Medicare for All," which she says will put the $11 trillion that would be spent out-of-pocket on health care over 10 years "back in the pockets of American families."

The bottom line: This will be paid for "with targeted spending cuts, new taxes on giant corporations and the richest 1% of Americans, and by cracking down on tax evasion and fraud. Not one penny in middle-class tax increases," the plan states.

Go deeperArrowNov 1, 2019

Warren bets the White House on Medicare for All

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios - Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issue.

Elizabeth Warren, who rose to the top with big liberal bets, is banking a big slice of her presidential run on full-throated support for Medicare for All. 

Why it matters: Warren is taking a beating on social media after claiming middle class Americans won’t pay higher taxes to fund health care coverage fully paid for by taxpayers, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios. At the same time, her poll numbers nationally are slipping. 

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019