On CNN Tuesday night, 12 of the 19 democratic presidential candidates convened in Westerville, Ohio for their fourth presidential debate and, among many other things, discussed the pertinent issue of health care.
What became very clear, and has been a constant theme in these debates, is that the all-encompassing “Medicare for All” plan championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and supported by Sen. Elizabeth Warren is under fire from the rest of the candidates.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg went as far as to say that advocating for Medicare for All would, “unnecessarily divide this country.”
Health care is a sensitive issue for Americans and, in particular, for American college students.
Not only is the U.S. one of the only developed countries to not provide health care for all of its citizens, but the U.S. spends much more on health care than many other developed countries, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
For college students joining the workforce immediately after graduation, health care is often a big concern. Rather than pursuing their best interests, students may try to get the first job that offers a health insurance plan, particularly individuals who have a pre-existing conditions, which is a condition a person has prior to their health benefits going into effect.
The State Health Access Data Assistance Center found that the percentage of uninsured Americans between 19-25 was at 14 percent in 2018. The same data found that over 60 percent of the same age group relied on an employer to provide health insurance.
By moving away from a system of private insurance, the U.S. would allow for all Americans to have more independence from their employer.
Sen. Sanders’ plan, released in April 2019, clearly identifies a 4 percent income-based premium for employees after they earn their first $29,000 as well as a 7.5 percent income-based premium paid by employers, after the first $2 million in payroll, among other options to pay for the plan.
Implementing this plan would relieve all businesses from the need to provide private insurance to employees. The money saved has the potential to go into greater earnings for graduates going into entry-level positions.
By implementing a national plan that is not tied to employment, students graduating into the workforce will be more independent. They can make decisions in their professional life based on their life goals and not have to factor in whether they can afford to go to the doctor.
Candidates like Buttigieg on stage will work overtime to frame the system as too costly, despite the fact that every developed country has a similar system with better health outcomes including on key health factors like life expectancy according to data from the OECD. Sen. Warren and Sen. Sanders cannot let up their advocacy for a Medicare for All system.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.