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Medicare Advantage for All

A Potential Path to Universal Coverage
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    A growing majority of people in the US support universal health insurance,(1,2) but important questions remain about what is the best and most politically palatable framework for realizing this goal. Some policy makers have advocated for universal coverage through “Medicare for All,” which would consolidate private and public health insurance into a single payer administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

    However, Medicare for All has several key limitations and risks. Eliminating private health insurance would effectively eliminate a large sector of the US economy. Additionally, this model would leave an unclear role for managed care organizations (MCOs), which are how most individuals in the US currently receive health insurance coverage.(3) Moreover, in a survey of 1190 US adults, 58% reported they would oppose a national health plan if it eliminated private insurance.(1) Medicare Advantage (MA) for All—which would create a national guarantee for health insurance while maintaining private-sector involvement in health insurance administration—represents an alternative path to achieving universal health insurance that could mitigate many of the disadvantages of Medicare for All.(3) This Viewpoint outlines what MA for All might look like and describes potential benefits, limitations, and risks.

    JAMA. Published online December 16, 2021

    Authors: Greg J. Zahner, MD, MSc; Peter W. Croughan, MD; Daniel M. Blumenthal, MD, MBA

     

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