Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Medicare for All is the cheapest and best direction for the country. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Medicare for All is the cheapest and best direction for the country. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Now Is the Time for Medicare for All

The American public has a real choice here: expensive health care for the few or quality, affordable health care for the many

Robert Reich

 by RobertReich.org

In the midterm elections, most Democrats who were elected or reelected to the House supported Medicare for All.

As Trump and Republicans in Congress try to undermine the Affordable Care Act and raise the costs of health care, the American people continue to push back.

Over 70% of Americans–and even 52% of Republicans–now support Medicare for All, a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost than the current system.

Here are the facts:

Medicare for All is the cheapest and best direction for the country. Private for-profit insurers spend a fortune trying to attract healthy people while avoiding sick people, filling out paperwork from hospitals and providers, paying top executives, and rewarding shareholders.

And for-profit insurers are trying to merge like mad, in order to make even more money. This is why private for-profit health insurance is becoming so expensive, and why almost every other advanced nation–including our neighbor to the north–has adopted a single-payer system at less cost per person and with better health outcomes.

Administering Medicare is only 1.1 percent of its total costs; the rest goes directly into care. Even including Medicare Advantage, which involves private plans, total administrative costs are just 7 percent.

But private insurers spend about 12 percent of total costs on administration. Or put another way, Medicare’s 2016 administrative costs came to about $156 per person compared to over $594 per person with private insurance.

Medicare saves so much money for three simple reasons:

First, it has economies of scale. The more enrollees, the lower the cost per enrollee. Medicare for All would have even larger economies of scale, presumably lowering the per-person costs further.  

Second, Medicare spends almost nothing on marketing and advertising, while for-profit insurers spend a fortune.

Third, Medicare doesn’t have to earn profits.

Most Americans support expanding access to quality, affordable care through Medicare for All. Yet Trump and the Republicans continue to try to gut the Affordable Care Act and take away care from tens of millions.

The American public has a real choice here: expensive health care for the few or quality, affordable health care for the many. It’s time for Medicare for All.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. His book include:  "Aftershock" (2011), "The Work of Nations" (1992), "Beyond Outrage" (2012) and, "Saving Capitalism" (2016). He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good" (2019). He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·


Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo