Thursday, September 18, 2008

Politic: Health Care - Comparing Barack Obama's Plan and John McCain's Plan

I got this from CWG's blog:

A wonderfully informative pair of articles comparing the health care proposals of John McCain and Barack Obama appeared Sept. 16 in The Wall Street Journal. A news/analysis story written by reporter Laura Meckler, and an opinion piece of the paper's Op Ed page by David M. Cutler, J. Bradford DeLong, and Ann Marie Marciarille, made the following points:
* Barack Obama's plan would bring more currently uninsured people into the American health care system. Far more. In round figures, 34 million newly covered citizens vs.a net increase of only about 1 million under the McCain health care proposals.

* John McCain's health care plan would cost less - but not a great deal less - than Barack Obama's: $1.3 trillion over ten years vs. the $1.6 trillion price tag for the Democrat's plan over the same period.

* Barack Obama would bring far more government regulation of big health insurance companies - requiring, for instance, insurance companies to provide coverage to everyone (including those with existing conditions), and at consistent prices, according to the news/analysis article reports. Large employers would be required to cover every worker, or pay a fine. Benefits would be more generous than they are now, across the board, as private companies would become required to match a government health care plan that Obama would create, offering an option to consumers now able to purchase only private plans. The result: private plans would increase theirbenefits to match those offered by the government plan, in order to compete.

* Under the McCain plan, "Those already sick are completely out of luck," the Op Ed piece says, since insurance companies would be "free to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions."

* John McCain would reduce both state and federal regulation of big insurance companies, the news/analysis story says. In addition, Sen. McCain "proposes a big tax hike as the solution to our health care crisis," the Journal's Op Ed piece notes. "His plan would raise taxes on workers who receive health benefits, with the idea of encouraging employers to drop coverage. A study by the University of Michigan shows that the McCain tax hike on insurance "will lead employers to drop coverage for over 20 million Americans," the opinion piece says. What would happen to these people?, the article asks, and then answers its own question: "Mr. McCain would give them a small tax credit...and then tell to navigate the individual insurance market on their own." The tax credits would be "way too small," the article on the Op Ed page says, covering less than half the cost of policies today, and "far below the 75% that most employers offering coverage contribute."

* Barack Obama's plan would require that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and doctors be based on patient outcomes (for example, lower cholesterol readings, etc.) rather than simply paying, regardless of outcomes, for procedures performed or services offered. Currently, the Op Ed piece notes, "insurers make money by dumping sick patients, not by keeping people healthy." Basing payments to hospitals and doctors on patient outcomes is a radical notion, to say the least.

* John McCain's plan contains no such provision.

For more information about the two candidates' health care plans, reference the Sept 16 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Be sure to look up both the news/analysis article on page A21 and the Op Ed piece on page A25.

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