How Much Would Universal Health Care Cost?

Health care experts have conducted in-depth analyses on Medicare for All proposals at both state and national levels. Most have concluded that such proposals would result in reduced total healthcare spending.

Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute gave us her $34 trillion estimate. This figure was determined using projections by the Congressional Budget Office on future outlays of budget funds.


Universal health care would provide citizens with access to all of the healthcare services they need, helping reduce healthcare costs while simultaneously decreasing disability risks and mortality risks and improving overall public health.

Implementing universal health coverage would impose substantial costs, likely necessitating higher taxes, due to its inherent conflict of interest: Healthy individuals would pay for medical needs of sicker ones – which runs counter to American values of individualism and personal responsibility.

U.S. healthcare costs remain excessively expensive due to an ineffective and fragmented healthcare system. A Medicare for All policy could save lives while simultaneously cutting costs by improving efficiency, cutting administrative waste and eliminating private insurance and out-of-pocket expenses; it would also lower drug prices, making healthcare more accessible.


No matter your approach to universal health care, most agree that taxes must change to support its implementation. Possible scenarios could include raising income tax or consumption tax rates while others raise payroll and corporate taxes – although some options would likely be more progressive than others. It would likely also raise middle-class household costs significantly.

Consider that both Democratic presidential candidates propose shifting from today’s mixture of employer-sponsored and individual coverage towards public-only plans. If this were to occur, nearly half of Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage would lose it and switch over to government coverage; they no longer pay premiums or out-of-pocket medical costs such as copays; instead, they’d need to find ways to make up that money through things such as salary raises – with an accompanying increase in taxes on that income – economists believe such a switch would necessitate significant increases in personal taxes as a result of switching over from employer-sponsored to government-only coverage would result in significant tax increases on personal tax payers alike compared with current plans presently proposed by candidates running on opposite platforms.


Universal health care is an integral component of social protection and economic development, providing people access to essential health services while helping reduce poverty and improve health outcomes for all. But universal healthcare does come with challenges. The COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrated their fragility as well as the necessity for comprehensive coverage.

Single-payer systems would replace private insurance with a unified public financing system and are estimated to save billions in administrative costs, reduce out-of-pocket expenses for individuals, improve access to preventative care and decrease costly treatments.

Recent estimates project Medicare for All could save an estimated total of $32.6 trillion over its first ten years, saving an estimated annual savings of 2.1 million premature deaths due to chronic diseases or modifiable determinants of health; in turn reducing chronic disease burden, improving individual wellbeing, and supporting widespread preventive efforts across multiple societal domains.


If we want universal healthcare, we must invest in a system that addresses the underlying determinants of health. This long-term investment will save trillions over time; but expanding Medicare without structural improvements would not be cost-effective.

American healthcare can often seem out of reach financially. Yet research from both ends of the political spectrum demonstrates that universal healthcare would actually be much cheaper than its current form.

Current healthcare is costly because it depends on individual consumers to purchase insurance, pay co-pays and deductibles, negotiate services with doctors, and make decisions independently. Individual negotiations often lead to excessive prices, opacity and surprise billing – an expense which could be mitigated with centralized systems like those found in France (CMU) and countries with strong traditions of social protection such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

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