Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the second Democratic debate in Detroit on July 30. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the second Democratic debate in Detroit on July 30. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

By Editorial Board November 6, 2019 at 4:14 p.m. PST

SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH care can work. Government-run systems operate in other industrialized countries and often achieve comparable or better overall results, for less money, than the health-care patchwork in the United States. So why aren’t Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposing something that resembles those systems?

The two presidential candidates promise far more generous benefits than other countries offer. They pretend that the United States wouldn’t have to make any of the trade-offs other nations have had to make. They promise fantastically generous benefits, no premiums, co-payments or other cost-sharing, and a miraculously low price tag. It’s fiction.

Mr. Sanders points to government-run systems abroad to claim that his Medicare-for-all plan is realistic. But his differs from those in substantial ways. Meanwhile, Ms. Warren last week released a detailed explanation purporting to show how her system would function and, crucially, how the federal treasury could finance such a vast entitlement expansion. The result is inescapable: As written, it couldn’t.

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