Sen. Bernie Sanders, at a town hall Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire, spoke about how he would pay for his universal healthcare proposal:
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: If the question is do I believe in a publicly funded healthcare system, absolutely positively and unequivocally. Now the question of funding is a complicated issue, because you're talking about a whole lot of money.
Right now, how do we pay for healthcare, who wants to help me with that?
Roughly speaking, give or take, about half of the money already comes from taxes and the government, that's Medicare, Medicaid, veterans, public health programs. The other half you pay for your private premiums, your deductibles, your co-payments, your out of pocket expenses. That's kind of how we pay for it.
So, first point, when we talk about funding of healthcare, is we are now spending about twice as much per person on healthcare as do the people of any other country. So we are spending a fortune, we're spending about $11,000 per person, $3.5 trillion per year, estimates are that that is going to go up in years to come.
What I believe is we should move to a Medicare For All system, which does the following. For a start, it will improve Medicare for the elderly by covering dental care, eyeglasses, and hearing aids, okay? That's what we'll do.
And in its first year, it will lower the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 55, cover all of the children in one program, and move the next year down to 45 and then 35 and then cover everybody in America in a four year period.
You're asking a fair question. How do you pay for that? Well, what we have chosen not to do, because it would just engender enormous debate, is to tell you how I'm going to raise every nickel in a $3.5 trillion budget. That's something that is going to have to be discussed. So I want to lay out the program as to what it would mean, and to tell you that it will cost you, and ordinary Americans, a lot less than you are currently spending on average.
What it will probably end up looking like is a payroll tax on employers, an increase in income tax in a progressive way for ordinary people with a significant deductible for low-income people who will pay nothing for it. Upper-income people will pay more.
But at the end of the day, these are the issues we have to deal with, and admittedly this is a complicated issue. We've been wrestling with it for years.
Number one: Is healthcare a human right or is it not?
Alright, so if we agree that just because he is rich and she is poor than he can get the best healthcare in the world and she can't afford to go to the doctor, if we think that that is wrong, which most Americans do, than we have to cover everybody with healthcare.
Number two, the function of the current healthcare system is what?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: To make money.
SANDERS: Thank you, alright. That's it, in about two words you got it. You will be delighted to know that the top five insurance companies made $20 billion in profit. That the guy who was in charge of Aetna and engineered a merger with CVS, for his work, he got $500 million out of your healthcare dollars. Some of us think we could do a lot more with $500 million in terms of doctors, nurses, lowering prescription costs, but he got $500 million. The head of United Healthcare makes $83 million per year. Et cetera.
The function of our healthcare system will be quality care for all, free choice of doctor and hospital, and paying for that in a public way. And we save very substantial sums of money because we're not going to be paying people to hound you for the back bills for the hospital. We're going to be putting that money into the delivery of healthcare.
Watch the full town hall with Bernie Sanders: