President Trump on Medicare for All

Last month, President Trump signed an executive order that enacted policies designed to expand health care choice and competition.  The president also offered his blunt assessment of "Medicare for All," the single-payer system advocated by a number of the major Democratic presidential nominees.

In a briefing released by the White House, Trump stated:

We have to reject the socialist model that rations care, restricts access, slashes quality, and forces patients onto endless waitlists. Instead, we believe in freedom. We believe in choice. We believe in the highest standard of care in the world — anywhere in the world."

Medicare for All, the president concluded, "would force patients to face massive wait times for treatments and destroy access to quality care."

The prestigious Manhattan Institute has now released a study that corroborates the president's claims about the waitlists.  The study, entitled "Medicare for All? Lessons from Abroad for Comprehensive Health-Care Reform," compared the health care systems of eight developed countries, including the United States.

When it comes to the issue of access, the study stated: "Waiting lists are inherent to single-payer systems."

The Manhattan Institute study included some fascinating survey results.  Two revealing data points, reproduced in chart form in the study, came from a 2016 Commonwealth Fund international health policy survey.  Respondents were asked whether they waited two months or more for a specialist appointment in 2016.  In the U.S., the figure was 6%.  In the U.K., the comparable figure was 19%, and in Canada, it was 30%.  Wait times were thus three to five times greater in two countries with single-payer health care.  Another survey question asked whether survey respondents waited four months or more for elective surgery in 2016.  In the U.S., it was 4%.  In the U.K., it was 12%, and in Canada, it was 18%, again revealing a significant increase in wait times in single-payer systems.

In comparing health care around the globe, the Manhattan Institute concluded:

Single-payer systems share the common feature of limiting access to care according to what can be raised in taxes. Government revenues consistently lag the growth in demand for medical services resulting from increased affluence, longevity, and technological capacity. As a result, single-payer systems deliver consistently lower quality and access to high-cost specialty care or surgical procedures without reducing overall out-of-pocket costs. Across the countries in this paper, limitations in access to care are closely tied to the share of the population enrolled in private insurance — with those in Britain and Canada greatly limited, Australians facing moderate restrictions, and those in the other countries studied being more able to get care when they need it.

Once again, President Trump proves to be better informed than his critics.

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