Many specialties would still take a pay cut even under versions of "Medicare for All" that aren't as full-throated as what Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed, according to recent analysis in JAMA by Harvard's Zirui Song.
The big picture: This is a feature, not a bug, of Medicare for All. Part of the point is to spend less on health care — through steep cuts in how much many doctors and hospitals get paid.
Yes, but: The figures above represent the change in how much doctors would get paid for patients who currently have private insurance — not the pay total change across all of their patients.
- Doctors are already receiving Medicare's lower rates for their patients who are on Medicare, and are in many cases getting paid less than that for Medicaid patients.
What they're saying: "The assumption that physicians and hospitals would not react as their commercial prices are reduced substantially to Medicare levels is likely unrealistic," Song writes.
- Doctors and hospitals would likely to try to boost their reimbursements under a single-payer system using some of the same tools they lean on now: Performing more procedures, steering patients toward more profitable services, and consolidating independent doctors' practices within hospitals, which get paid more.
- And without patient cost-sharing, people may demand more care.
The bottom line: Setting rates above Medicare levels would be less disruptive, as would phasing in the changes over time, Song argues.