(CNN)In recent weeks several prominent Democrats have renewed the call for “Medicare for All” that Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted in his 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. This has drawn pushback from billionaires and potential presidential candidates Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg, who insist the country can’t afford it. Since it’s likely to be a major issue in the presidential campaign, it is worth looking at the question more closely.
First, many countries do have national health care insurance along the lines advocated by proponents of Medicare for All. The list includes Canada, France and Denmark, among others. These countries all have healthy economies, with living standards comparable to those in the United States. In fact, in all three countries, a higher percentage of prime-age workers (ages 25 to 54) are employed than in the United States. Like all countries, these countries have some economic problems, but it is absurd to claim that the cost of providing universal health care is destroying their economies.
Their health care systems also have comparable outcomes to the United States. This means not only do people live as long (actually they live somewhat longer on average), but people with health conditions such as cancer or heart disease on average do as well in countries with universal coverage as in the United States.