Urban Institute 2016

The Sanders Single-Payer Health Care Plan: The Effect on National Health Expenditures and Federal and Private Spending

By: Urban Institute
Authors: John Holahan, Lisa Clemans-Cope, Matthew Buettgens, Melissa Favreault, Linda J. Blumberg, Siyabonga Ndwandwe
Published: May 9, 2016
Financed by: Urban Institute
Legislation analyzed: none, analysis of Bernie Sanders single-payer healthcare proposal, outlined during the 2016 Democratic Presidential primaries election.


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Summary

We estimate that the Sanders plan would increase current national health care spending on acute and long-term care by about $518.9 billion (16.9 percent) in 2017 and would increase federal government spending about $2.5 trillion (257.6 percent) in 2017 and $32.0 trillion (232.7 percent) from 2017 to 2026. Our 10-year federal cost estimates are higher than those published earlier this year by Kenneth Thorpe (2016). He estimated total new federal costs of $24.3 trillion over 2017 to 2026. As is the case whenever one projects the costs of new programs, there is uncertainty around these estimates. There are several reasons why components of these estimates may be too low and some reasons why others may be too high.