Medicare for All, One Organ at a Time: How Disease Entitlement Can Work for Diabetes
Journal IssueVolume 27, 2020
While Richard Nixon may not spring to mind as a Medicare for All pioneer, his groundbreaking healthcare innovation that expanded Medicare entitlement for renal disease, regardless of a patient's age, demonstrates a viable path for expanding Medicare coverage today. This highly successful program provided dialysis or transplantation to over one million patients with kidney disease and became known as socialized medicine for an organ. In addition to extending patients' lives, the program proved that Medicare can be structured to cover people with specific diagnoses, not just those in distinct age groups. This paper argues that the United States could use the same model to expand Medicare coverage to other expensive diseases, particularly diabetes. Not only would this ease diabetics' financial burden, it would also reduce costs for private insurance companies, potentially allowing them to offer less expensive plans than are currently available. This paper demonstrates the need for such a program by examining the high cost of diabetes treatment and provides a cost estimate for such a program. The paper concludes that diabetes entitlement is a viable option for expanding Medicare and improving the US healthcare system.