Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing the idea of a universal health care system in the United States. He is among the front runners in polling, so it is actually having an effect on housing stocks.
The U.S. already spends more of its GDP -- 17 percent in 2017 -- on health care than any other nation.
Question: Would a universal health care system benefit the U.S. economy in the long run?
Phil Blair, Manpower
YES: Universal health care will level the playing field for a basic human need. There will be very hard questions about what services are basic and what higher level of service can be bought on the open market. Also, if government cannot provide consistent, quality health care at an affordable price, we will need to empower the non-government, private sector health care system to cover all Americans.
Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research
NO: Government and government-subsidized insurance companies currently account for most spending on health care. Medicaid (and Medicare) recipients would be subjected to astronomical tax hikes under a universal health care system. Rationing and wait times for care would inevitably increase, deeply hamper America's world-leading innovation in medical technology, and require enormous tax increases on working individuals and their families. One-half of the U.S. population currently with private health care would be dumped off plans and funneled into one-size-fits-all government bureaucracy.
David Ely, San Diego State University
NO: Reducing the number of uninsured individuals would have very positive effects. However, universal health care can be structured in multiple ways. Sanders is promoting a system funded by a single-payer. Health care would be delivered by private providers but the costs would be paid by the government. Under this plan, the risk is that the cost of health care will rise and require higher taxes, which will pull resources away from other sectors of the economy.
Gina Champion-Cain, American National Investments
Not participating this week.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
YES: The patchwork U.S. health care system causes economic distortions which negatively affect the economy. These include workers choosing employment based on insurance availability, firms making staffing decisions to limit eligibility for benefits, people waiting until emergency care is required rather than taking preventative measures, half of bankruptcies are due to high medical costs, and prices raised on the insured to make up for the cost of caring for the uninsured. Americans would be healthier and more productive and lives would be saved.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
NO: The U.S. spends more on health care than other countries partly because we are richer and partly because of inefficiencies. Nationalizing health care might help address inefficiencies, but first we need an honest discussion of the limits of what we're able to provide instead of promising everything free for everybody. The taxes needed to pay for universal health care will slow down long-run economic growth and we also need an honest discussion of that tradeoff.
Gary London, London Moeder Advisors
YES: Perpetuating the canard of government intervention as a reason not to explore solutions is getting us nowhere. Any resolution which improves our health care delivery system, call it what you want, which includes cost reduction, wide inclusion and unrestricted coverage would deliver a reward to our economy. Impacted health care companies won't take a long-term hit if they participate in a solution.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
YES: But only if we still have competitive bidding by health care suppliers. Average costs for health care coverage increase by covering those with pre-existing conditions but this is the right thing to do. Our costs can also go down, if everyone must share in the costs so that we do not over-consume medical care, if doctors don't over prescribe tests or medicines, and if we can limit personal injury lawsuit awards that drive up medical liability insurance rates to ridiculous levels.
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
NO: The quality of care our country is accustomed to would not remain the same should it happen. This includes access to top notch doctors, tests, surgeries, and appointments. There would be long wait times and talent could leave the field or not even enter it, which could lead to a shortage. Our health care would be run by the federal government, likely modeled after Medicare, and paid for by raising taxes. In the long run, a universal health care system would not benefit our economy.
Austin Neudecker, Rev
YES: The benefits of universally affordable health care far outweigh its substantial costs. The current public-private system purports to care for all but generally treats acute problems reactively (when they cost the most to address). Oligopolies in the system artificially inflate prices, which can cripple unlucky, lower-income individuals. A healthier population creates more productive workers and increases economic output.
Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates
NO: Universal health care forces healthy people to pay for others' medical care. The sickest 5 percent of the population consumes 50 percent of total U.S. health care costs while the healthiest 50 percent consume only 3 percent of the nation's health care costs, according to The Balance. With free universal health care, people may not be as careful with their health and might overuse emergency rooms and doctors; our government budget will be overwhelmed.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
NO: The two basic problems of U.S. health care are its cost and its outcomes. House Speaker Pelosi is right to worry about the 10-year $30 trillion cost. Expanding the government's role in negotiating with drug companies, doctors, or hospitals may be no panacea if Medicare and Medicaid are models. Giving everyone "free" access to health care does not guarantee that care's quality or timeliness. U.S. health care consumers need more information and incentives to help drive critical reform.
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
NO: Medicare pays roughly 80 percent of the cost of care for its beneficiaries -- private insurance subsidizes the remaining 20 percent. Huge tax increases would be required to eliminate private insurance and expand Medicare to everyone. Layoffs would occur at insurance companies and other industries tied to health care, and health systems -- the largest private sector employers in most communities -- would see significant workforce cuts. Tax increases and massive job losses are not positive for the economy.
Have an idea for an EconoMeter question? Email me at [email protected].
Follow me on Twitter: @PhillipMolnar
(c)2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune
Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.