Okay, But What Actually Is Medicare For All?

Much like the concept of gluten, Medicare for All is something we throw around a lot, but when asked to define it, we find ourselves unable to give a concise answer. Gluten is that thing that is illegal to eat and Medicare For All is that thing that Bernie Sanders loves? Turns out there is more to both of these things, and the latter is actually really f*cking important.

With third Democratic debate behind us, it’s clear health care will be a hot button issue throughout the 2020 campaign. But the only time you really hear candidates explain the concept is when they’re tearing apart the particulars of their opponents’ plans. Rarely does anyone actually define it in simple terms. 

I myself often find my response to defining the term as, “Medicare for All is, you know…Medicare…for…all.” So, I have taken it upon myself to read a lot of articles, do a lot of Google searches, and call my dad multiple times in order to get to the bottom of this. And now I will share with you what I have found. Yeah, you’re welcome.

What is Medicare?

Let’s start here. Medicare is a federal, government run program that provides health insurance to people who are a) 65 or older b) people who are living with a disability or c) people with end-stage renal disease. In America, many people are insured through the benefits at their job. This means that when people retire, they lose their health insurance, and that is where Medicare comes in. Which makes sense, right? Elders who have retired deserve to be insured so they can remain healthy and alive. So, already Medicare is a program that practices the idea that health care is a human right. And tbh Medicare is v popular. Most people who have it seem to love it. I mean, free health insurance…what’s not to love? So, why is it limited to only certain demographics?

What Is Medicare For All?

Medicare For All asks the above question and answers it by saying Medicare should be for everyone. As I said before, about half of Americans obtain health insurance through their jobs, but that still leaves out a lot of people. Like, for example, me, who works freelance and doesn’t receive benefits. Plus, even people who do get health insurance through their jobs end up paying a lot for it and have to shell out money for high copays and deductibles.

Private health insurance forces both people who are and aren’t covered pay massive amounts of money for medical bills. Private health insurance makes health care a privilege that people can buy, making a healthy life a commodity, not a right. Medicare aims to change that by providing everyone with free health insurance. With this, private health insurance would no longer be a thing. Everyone would be insured by the government, for free (and in exchange for higher taxes). In short, everyone would have the same free health insurance that people over 65 have: Medicare. It’s literally…Medicare For All.

Why Medicare?

This idea came about from the desire to provide Americans with single-payer health care. Okay, what is that? It’s another fancy term thrown around in politics that secretly has a simple definition. Single-payer health care is a type of universal health care financed by taxes that covers the costs of health care for all residents, with costs covered by a single public system. Blah blah blah taxes help the government pay for our health care so we don’t die or go into massive debt blah blah blah. America is the only highly developed countries that doesn’t have universal health care. Tbh it’s kind of embarrassing. But we do have Medicare, which is the closest program we have to a free health care market. So, it makes sense for us to take a program that we already have and is popular, and use that when transitioning to a free market for everyone. Why start from scratch when you already have the framework set up?


Okay, Why Is Everyone Not For This?

So there’s an option for free health insurance and not everyone is jumping at it? Yes. Because Medicare For All would mean letting go of what we are already familiar and comfortable with. People would lose their health insurance and have to switch to this new one, which hasn’t been tested at this level. Private insurance companies of course hate this idea, because they would lose a lot of money. And we as Americans would lose the option to choose what health insurance program we want. Instead, we would be given our one option: Medicare. And here’s the thing: Americans love options and hate change.

Medicare For All would eliminate the former and deliver the latter. But, I listened to a podcast (humblebrag) called Reply Guys — which you all should listen to — where the guest, Natalie Shure, talked about how most Americans are not happy with their current health insurance. Most Americans would benefit from a change. Especially those less fortunate who can’t afford most health insurance. Medicare For All could be a win for the average American, but it would also mean big change.

We’ll update you on how Medicare for All continues to shape the presidential race in our daily newsletter. Subscribe here, and catch our full breakdown of the third presidential debate on the Betches Sup podcast

Each Democratic Candidate’s Debate Performance Summarized In One GIF

And then there were 20.

This week, 20 people running for president took the debate stage in  Detroit, Michigan, a state that Trump became the first Republican to win since 1988. The debates were moderated by Andy Cohen — I mean, CNN journalists — who seemed to put their questions through a Drama Optimizer and repeatedly baited candidates into attacking one another. Welcome to 2020. 

Night one took a turn familiar to any casual “Real Housewives” viewer, with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders going after low-polling moderates like Season 1 OGs schooling a freshman cast member who tries to come for them at the reunion. Night two, featuring former VP Biden and new target Kamala Harris, less substantive and more personal. To return to “Housewives” parlance, if night one’s theme was “Do you even want to be here?” then night two was more “I have the texts!” 

Now, we await two mass extinctions — the global die-off of species and the long-awaited exodus of Democratic candidates for president. Only 10 candidates can take the debate stage in September (there are currently 25 in the race) and the donation requirements to do so have doubled. Thank goddess this era of excessive candidates is almost over. 

Below, we sum up each candidate’s debate performance with a few words and a corresponding GIF. We’ll update this list after tonight’s second round of debates. 

Bernie Sanders

Pundits wondered if Sanders was at risk of “berning out” after last month’s lackluster debate performance temporarily pushed him lower in the polls. But this week, he was on fire. Moderates who attempted to attack his Democratic Socialist stances underestimated the 77-year-old’s feistiness, and the senator even dismissed some of the moderators’ questions as “Republican talking points,” The audience loved it. 


Elizabeth Warren

Warren expertly defended attacks that her policies were unrealistic and sank zingers like Megan Rapinoe making a penalty kick in the quarter-finals. In one particularly memorable line, she shot back at a stunned John Delaney for questioning whether big changes to Medicare and immigration policy could alienate moderate voters. 

“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” she said. 

If you can’t get down for Medicare for all, then… 

John Delaney 

RIP, John Delaney, who was publicly executed by Elizabeth Warren on the thirtieth day of July in the lord’s year 2019. The former congressman from Maryland, who moderators pointed out has a personal fortune of $65 million, was the evening’s unwitting punching bag. After he accused Warren of pushing “impossible” policies, Warren unleashed the biggest burn of the night (see above.) John, you can see yourself out.

Pete Buttigieg

The South Bend mayor, who clearly underestimates our ability to remember that he is young (we know Pete, you can stop saying it), urged fellow candidates not to focus so much on how Republicans will frame their ideas because Republicans will call them socialists no matter what they do. He also tried to bring constitutional reform back, saying: “This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn’t drink, and changed it back because we changed our minds. You’re telling me we can’t reform democracy in our time?” Cheers to that. 



Beto O’Rourke

Minor league candidates like O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar didn’t get much airtime between the frontrunners’ slaying of the amateurs. The former Texas congressman lost a ton of momentum after June’s meh debate performance, and he did little to restore it this round. Hopes were high for Beto, but at this point in the race, he’s kind of a wilted beanstalk. 

Marianne Williamson

The author and spiritual advisor who’s never been in politics kind of… slayed? Williamson gave sharp and pointed answers to questions related to racial justice, demanding other candidates acknowledge the racial dimension of the Flint water crisis and other environmental issues. She was the only candidate to state plainly that she would offer reparations to African Americans in amounts up to $500 billion. She did, however, promise to fight the “dark physic forces” that made Trump president. 


Amy Klobuchar

In the few minutes she did speak, Amy Klobuchar managed to advocate a moderate agenda without using the same Republican talking points of some of her peers. But her lack of vigor in either direction almost makes her less memorable — she’s not progressive enough for the cool kids’ table, but not cynical enough for the purple state moderates. The whole debate we couldn’t help but notice Klobuchar shares a haircut and temperament with a certain SNL character. 

Tim Ryan 

Tim Ryan of Ohio made barely any impression outside of his truly gigantic size compared to the other candidates and finding himself on the receiving end of several well-earned Bernie clap backs. After accusing Sanders of not understanding health care policy, Sanders reminded he wrote the actual bill in question, after which Ryan asked him to stop yelling at him. 

Honestly, it’s still hard to pick him out of a line-up. 

Steve Bullock

Nice to meet ya, Steve. Bullock is the governor of Montana who didn’t qualify for last month’s debate but lucked into a spot after Eric Swalwell dropped out of the race. Bullock definitely tells jokes at barbeques like  “What do you call a Democrat from Montana? A Republican!” and tried to sell voters on his centrist message — one he thinks can coax blue-collar voters away from Trump. 


John Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper also took a beating from the progressive frontrunners, whom he accused of promoting “wish list” economics that would “FedEx the election” to the GOP. Hickenlooper also opposed legalizing weed as governor of Colorado, but oversaw legalization because it was the “will of the people.” What a narc. 

Trust us here, the best GIF to represent John Hickenlooper is this GIF of John Hickenlooper’s self-own asking Bernie to throw his hands up if he’s going to pursue radical changes.

Kamala Harris

Harris proved herself a formidable opponent for Sanders, Warren and Biden during last month’s debate. That made her a target this round, and her opponents got in some very clean shots. Gabbard highlighted her uncharitable record as a prosecutor, which Harris struggled to defend, while Biden and Bennet questioned her health care plan. She mainly responded to attacks by claiming the others were lying about her plans or mischaracterizing her record, but didn’t really point out specifics. 

Joe Biden

Many outlets declaring Biden a winner of last night’s debate seem to categorize a “win” as “slightly better than last month’s disaster.” Biden was indeed better prepared to absorb attacks from every single candidate this round, which gave him the most talking time of either debate (over 20 minutes). He effectively questioned his opponents’ more radical health care plans but fizzled out defending his records on immigration and criminal justice. 

Cory Booker

Booker seems to have fully surrendered the “let’s win this election with love” approach to Marianne Williamson, and we are here for it. Booker unleashed his signature staredown as Biden went after his criminal justice approach as mayor of Newark, criticizing the city’s use of stop and frisk. Booker shot back: “Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community — you’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor.” 

Julián Castro

Castro saw a huge bump after his June debate showing. He maintained his sparkle last night, but might not have done much to add to it. He continues to argue persuasively for the repeal of a part of the U.S. Code that criminalizes crossing the border and had a strong response when Biden asked why this wouldn’t just motivate more people to enter the country, to which Castro responded: “Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past, and one of us hasn’t.” Not to mention: Julián Castro can get it. 

(feat. Cory Booker)

Bill de Blasio

The mayor of New York was heckled throughout the debate, with protesters shouting “Fire Pantaleo” in reference to the police officer who killed unarmed black man Eric Garner. Several candidates on stage did ask De Blasio why he hadn’t fired the officer. De Blasio spent most of his speaking time on offense, but his attacks fell pretty flat because honestly nobody really cared that they were being criticized the man who 9 million people are already mad at because the subway doesn’t get them to work on time.

Jay Inslee

The climate change candidate wore his hot-scientist spectacles and persuasively criticized the others’ climate plans for not going far enough. He was also one of the only candidates to address Republicans other than Donald Trump, and noted how limited any Democratic president will be if the party doesn’t take back the Senate in 2020. He tried to interject in more kitchen table issue discussions but just didn’t get called on.


Andrew Yang

Yang had the least amount of speaking time — he spoke less than half as often as Biden — but made an impression when he did. Most candidates awkwardly pivot when asked a question they don’t want to answer, but Yang was able to frame his novel Universal Basic Income platform (he wants to give every American $1,000 a month) as an effective solution to a range of political issues. He also used his favorite line that no one is more fit to beat Trump than “an Asian man who likes math.”


Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard was the sleeper hit of the evening, coming out as the most Googled candidate of the second debate. The Hawaii congresswoman did her oppo research on Harris and launched some brutal attacks, highlighting one of Harris’ biggest vulnerabilities in the race: her time as a prosecutor, during which she made a few moves inconsistent with a progressive agenda. Gabbard also highlighted her military service and expertise. 

Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet spoke very slowly, making us wonder if the Colorado senator snuck an edible into his carry-on. Remember those moderate punching bags from Tuesday? Bennet filled in for last night’s brawl. He went after Harris’ health care plan and accused her of taking insurance away from employees. This kinda backfired when Harris reminded us that the fact that we rely on employers for health care makes no damn sense and that Bennet is using “Republican talking points” when it comes to health care. 

Kirsten Gillibrand

If you’re already a Gillistan, your girl didn’t let you down last night. If you’re not, you probably didn’t become one in the last 24 hours either. Gillibrand had the fourth most speaking time, but she failed to make any distinguishing statements. She brought up Biden’s 1981 vote against providing childcare assistance to all families, which he justified by saying parents (read: mothers) should not be encouraged to work outside the home. I found this attack convincing, but Biden saw it coming and prepared a decent response. 

The Ultimate GIF Recap Of Each Democrat’s Debate Peformance

Finally, after two days, 20 candidates and four barely tolerable hours, we’ve made it through the first set of Democratic primary debates. Underdogs plead for attention, frontrunners played hard to get, and Kamala Harris could stage a coup tomorrow and no one would be that mad about it. We feel a lot of things, but one thing is for sure—it’s going to be a loooong 15 months.

Over two nights, the candidates defended their records, begged you to memorize their names, and made their respective cases on how they can take down Donald Trump. Below, we’ve summarized each candidates debate performance with a corresponding GIF.

Joe Biden

The 76-year-old was aloof and defensive, telling the young guns he has no intention of passing the torch, but not doing much of anything to show he’s earned it. When it comes to the nomination, his general attitude towards his opponents was:

Don'T Touch My Food GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Bernie Sanders

Oh, he was there? Sanders himself was a bit of a doormat on Thursday, but his impact on the tone of the Democratic field was undeniable. He maintained his OG status on Medicare for All and defended it better than most of his competitors, reminding them: 

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Mayor Pete

Buttigieg was solid as a rock, gracefully answering challenging questions about racial politics and taking responsibility for issues at home in South Bend. But he was a little robotic, sounding at times like a policy Alexa. 

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Kamala Harris

I mean, did you see that ish? A baddie. A goddess. No positive superlative would be out of place. Harris showed a strong command of policy and emotional intelligence about kitchen table issues that could connect her to blue-collar voters who might not have given her much thought. Other candidates repeatedly tried to talk through her turn, which she handled with grace because she knows all them fives gonna listen when a 10 is talking. 

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Eric Swalwell

Eric Swalwell is a millennial. Did you catch that? He’s precocious, and he knows just what it takes to make a gun reform advocate blush. No one seemed more satisfied with Eric Swalwell’s performance than Eric Swalwell.

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Andrew Yang

Yang seemed to speak the least, which highlighted his gap in experience compared to all the seasoned politicians on stage. The 44-year-old did have a chance to explain and defend his $1,000 Universal Basic Income, his plan to give every American $1,000 a month. That ought to pique some interest. And at one point he said asses instead of assets. 

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Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator spoke the most, was the most memed AND the most Googled of his night. He won’t win the nomination but he’s a shoo-in for Mr. Congeniality 

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Marianne Williamson

The self-help author surely endeared herself to plenty of suburban moms who just bought their first crystals. Her saying “Girlfriend, you are so on” in her kind of unbelievable 1940s accent was among the more memorable moments of either debate. 

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Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar, always coherent and prepared, seemed more apologetic than defiant when defending her moderate approach. Where was that salad comb energy, Ames!? All in all, the Minnesota senator struggled to find a place for herself as the party’s ideological center moves to the left. 

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Julian Castro

The sleeper hit of night one and by far the best at Spanish

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Elizabeth Warren

Warren brought extreme Hermione Granger energy and maintained her superiority over everyone else in her group. 

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Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand’s general ethos for the evening was “Hey girl.” With an impressive background on women’s issues like reproductive rights and childcare, she addressed female voters directly. She was informed and forceful on every issue. 

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Beto O’Rourke

Beto fulfilled his duties as Julian Castro’s doormat. He was coherent but overly rehearsed and looked depressed and exhausted. He’ll be out of the race and doing IV vitamin sponcon by winter. 

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Michael Bennet 

I mean, he knew what he was talking about the few times he spoke, and I can now differentiate this white man from all the others. Or at least the other one from Colorado. 

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John Hickenlooper

Speaking of, the former Colorado governor only spoke for five minutes, during which he (loudly) solidified his platform as “not a Democratic Socialist.” 

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Bill De Blasio 

That the moderators asked anything other than FIX THE DAMN SUBWAY is a disgrace. De Blasio was bigger and louder than everyone else and repeatedly interrupted them, so at least he represented New Yorkers accurately.

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Jay Inslee

All he had to do was talk about climate change for a minute. That happened. So yeah, he killed it. 

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John Delaney

The debate’s Medicare-for-all alarmist. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. 

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Tim Ryan 

Ryan was performing about as well as you’d expect for a Tim from Ohio, until he engaged Tulsi Gabbard, an actual veteran and foreign affairs expert, on Afghanistan and she made him look like little Timmy from Ohio. 

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Tulsi Gabbard

Not memorable but for her evisceration of Tim Ryan and covetable gray streak. 

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See you all next time!