Is Bernie Sanders a socialist like Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose mania for wealth redistribution has brought a country to its knees? Or, as Mr. Sanders suggests, is he merely a “socialist” in the manner of Scandinavian politicians, who presided over thriving free economies before imposing entitlement programs and have since cut corporate tax rates to allow economic growth to fund their promises?

Some years back, I concluded that single-payer health insurance would profoundly alter America’s financial structure, but change the country’s health care relatively little. This thesis is reinforced by the stridentbipartisan emotionalism aroused by a new study by my colleague, Charles Blahous.

In a recent tweet, the Bernie Sanders insists the plan will cut $2 trillion from the nation’s health care bill.But that’s based on a scenario in which hospitals and doctors accept significantly lower payments for many patients. It’s a big asterisk, and one that Sanders fails to disclose.

According to a July 30 study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, establishing a single-payer health care program will cost taxpayers $32 trillion over the next 10 years.

Maryland is now the fourth U.S. state in recent years to contemplate a “single payer” government health plan. In California, the cost of creating a single-payer system was an enormous political obstacle.

 

Even if Congress were to double what it collects in individual and corporate income taxes, there still wouldn’t be enough money added to the federal coffers to finance the costs of Medicare for All.

Having stacked the deck in favor of Medicare for All, a new report comes up with a price tag: By 2031, the federal government would be spending an additional $4.2 trillion a year. For reference, the amount is slightly more than the total the U.S. government expects to spend this year.

The U.K.’s government-run healthcare system, the National Health Service, turns 70 this month. There’s not much to celebrate. The NHS is collapsing. Patients routinely face treatment delays, overcrowded hospitals, and doctor shortages. Even its most ardent defenders admit that the NHS is in crisis.

States are testing the waters with Medicare-for-all type plans while waiting for federal solutions. The cost of single-payer plans could be the biggest hurdle.”Medicare for all” is becoming a rallying cry in state elections, with state legislators coming up with their own versions of single-payer healthcare despite, or possibly because of, the stagnation of similar ideas at the federal level.

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Candidates who advocate single-payer on the campaign trail are increasingly balking once they actually get their hands on the levers of power. That’s because single-payer is cost-prohibitive. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool leftists admit as much, after they take office and have to figure out how to pay for their campaign promises. Single-payer’s champions generally paint a lovely picture of health care utopia. Patients go to see the doctor of their choice whenever they like, get treatment, and leave the clinic without paying a cent. No copays, no deductibles, no cost-sharing, and no referrals—health care is “free” at the point of service. In reality, health care doesn’t magically become free; people just pay for it outside the doctor’s office, in the form of higher taxes.