Medicare for All will impact each generation differently. If implemented, the youngest among us will have a different experience with healthcare altogether. They may be encouraged to seek out care when they need it, rather than pushing it off to prevent a large bill. Middle-aged Americans may see their taxes increase slightly, but they will have greater access to health care and no risk of medical debt.
But what will happen to the oldest Americans? Medicare for All, after all, is modelled off of the healthcare seniors already experience.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, as well as certain younger people with disabilities. Many Americans see this as the pinnacle of health insurance in the United States. Depending on the type of Medicare a person has, the plan covers inpatient hospital stays, outpatient care, medical supplies, preventive services, and prescription drugs. So, if Medicare for All is implemented, will things change for those who already use Medicare?
The answer is complicated. Progressives are currently discussing several different Medicare for All plans. This is one of the program’s most common misconceptions: That there is only one option for Medicare for All implementation. This is a fluid plan that is designed to account for any and all American healthcare needs. If and when Medicare for All passes, it will always be subject to change.
That said, all iterations of Medicare for All would significantly benefit seniors. Under the proposed legislation, seniors would be enrolled in a government-run plan with broad access to doctors. They would have no premiums, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses.
Importantly, Medicare for All would eliminate Medicare Advantage plans, which are sold by private insurance companies to offer additional benefits, like dental and vision care. Most seniors cannot currently afford Medicare Advantage plans, which means Medicare for All would grant them new access to essential healthcare services.
Additionally, Senator Bernie Sanders has promised that Medicare for All would expand Medicare benefits to include eyeglasses and hearing aids. Many seniors cannot currently afford these devices. The inability to pay for updated eyeglasses and hearing aids significantly reduces a senior’s quality of life, as well as their safety. Introducing this coverage would benefit millions of American elders. And, while there have been no promises yet, medical alert pendant coverage has also been a topic of conversation in progressive political circles.
For most seniors, the benefits of Medicare for All outweigh the disadvantages. Some seniors may be subject to higher taxes, but, in the next decade, this will become a slim minority of the demographic. Granting broader healthcare access is the only way to ensure equity amongst America’s oldest residents. The plan would both lengthen and improve American lives – regardless of age.