Welcome, welcome, welcome to our first post about Last Week Tonight’s seventh season. John Oliver returned to his HBO show Sunday night, focusing Season 7’s first deep dive on a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary: Medicare for All. Oliver offers a comprehensive look at what M4A is—a single-payer healthcare system funded by the government—as well as at the primary arguments against it: cost, wait times and choice.
Our current healthcare system is hopelessly broken, as Oliver acknowledges, noting the dystopian horrors of delaying critical care and life-or-death crowdfunding campaigns: “America does have one of the best healthcare systems in the world … for rich, famous people,” Oliver explains. “Unfortunately, too many people are born in this country with a terrible preexisting condition called ‘not being Beyoncé.’”
Oliver acknowledges the costs of M4A, but details what that extra spending gets us under a plan like Bernie Sanders’, including little-to-no out-of-pocket costs and a more efficient, cost-effective system. “Overall, you can’t definitely say that it would be more expensive, but even if it was, I personally would argue that it’s worth it,” the host says.
His breakdown of the wait times talking point is similar: M4A would actually address this issue more effectively than the current U.S. healthcare system, as English healthcare nonprofit founder Stan Brock demonstrates in a clip. “Normally, Americans hate it when a British person comes over to diagnose what is wrong with you,” says Oliver. “Believe me, six seasons of YouTube comments have made that very fucking clear.”
Surely you’ve picked up the pattern by now: Choice, too, would be better, not worse, under M4A, Oliver argues, because our current system forces Americans’ hands via prohibitive costs, presenting only the illusion of choice. “You can get fucked by taking an ambulance, you can get fucked by going to the wrong hospital, or you can get fucked by going to the right hospital, but getting the wrong surgeon. The American healthcare system gives you so many choices as to how you want to get fucked. It truly is the Kama Sutra of healthcare.”
Instituting M4A won’t be easy, Oliver acknowledges: “Any plan would have to be designed and rolled out very, very carefully.” But “the devil you know is still a devil,” and despite the obvious difficulties of rebuilding the country’s system from the ground up, M4A is a net good that, at least in one key way, offers us all a ticket out of the dystopia.
Watch Oliver’s full segment below.