Tuesday, September 16

The Health Care Policy Breakdown

The differences in health care policies between Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama are staggering. The fact that these differences are not part of the national discussion is, in my opinion, a major reason that the polls are so close ( that and the lack of land line phones). If the details were to get out to the masses, Obama would be ahead of McCain by so much, the main talking point in the blogosphere would be "Why does McCain still bother?" That being said, here are a few links that break everything down:

The Wall Street Journal: Given the current inefficiencies in our system, the impact of the Obama plan will be profound. Besides the $2,500 savings in medical costs for the typical family, according to our research annual business-sector costs will fall by about $140 billion. Our figures suggest that decreasing employer costs by this amount will result in the expansion of employer-provided health insurance to 10 million previously uninsured people...In contrast, Sen. McCain, who constantly repeats his no-new-taxes promise on the campaign trail, proposes a big tax hike as the solution to our health-care crisis. His plan would raise taxes on workers who receive health benefits, with the idea of encouraging their employers to drop coverage. A study conducted by University of Michigan economist Tom Buchmueller and colleagues published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that the McCain tax hike will lead employers to drop coverage for over 20 million Americans...What would happen to these people? Mr. McCain will give them a small tax credit, $5,000 for a family and $2,500 for an individual, and tell them to navigate the individual insurance market on their own.

The New York Times: Under the McCain plan (now the McCain-Palin plan) employees who continue to receive employer-paid health benefits would look at their pay stubs each week or each month and find that additional money had been withheld to cover the taxes on the value of their benefits...While there might be less money in the paycheck, that would not be anything to worry about, according to Senator McCain. That’s because the government would be offering all taxpayers a refundable tax credit — $2,500 for a single worker and $5,000 per family — to be used “to help pay for your health care”...The whole idea of the McCain plan is to get families out of employer-paid health coverage and into the health insurance marketplace, where naked competition is supposed to take care of all ills.

Brilliant at Breakfast: Many of us pay the employee share of our medical premiums with pre-tax dollars so that our taxable income is lowered by the amount of our premiums. If McCain wanted to stop this practice alone, that would be bad enough. But it goes beyond that. His "health care plan" would also treat the employer share of your health insurance premium as income on which you would pay taxes...And that's assuming your employer decides to keep providing health insurance. If your employer does not, since you now have this nice tax credit to help you buy insurance on the open market, then you have $2500 with which to buy a policy -- if you can get one -- that has a GROUP rate of $13,000. Buying a comparable policy as an individual would cost significantly more. Group rates reflect shared risk, while individual policy premiums are based on your own health history. If you smoke, or you are overweight (whether that has adversely affected your health or not), or if you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes or cancer; if you yourself have had a costly illness -- all of this would raise your premiums. So even if you COULD purchase the same policy as you currently receive through your employer, you would pay a great deal more for it out of pocket. And that's assuming you can get a policy at all.

Give these a read in full and pass it on. Please.

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