Americans will elect a new president.
The McCain vs. Obama debate has been raging for months, and there
are certainly many facets for voters to consider. Yet in the ongoing debate about how best to
structure domestic health systems, it is worth noting the vast differences
between the two candidates’ proposals.
At the heart of the matter, the two policies rest upon
differing ideological views. Both
candidates see health care as important and want to fix it. They both claim to be interested in extending
access and decreasing costs. Their
methodology, however, is vastly different.
Obama believes that increased regulation and government coordination of the health care industry will accomplish his goals. He would regulate industry – forcing employers to provide a minimum standard of health insurance. He would regulate insurance companies – forcing minimum plans and non-discrimination in terms of risk. He would regulate individuals – by forcing them to purchase a minimum health care plan for their children (newly defined as up to age 25). We can only imagine how lobbyists, corporations and interest groups will be able to influence the “minimum standards” of these plans.
Moreover, the economics do not support Obama’s claim that
this plan will actually reduce costs. Forcing
insurance companies to accept riskier clientele will raise the price for
everyone, especially if younger, healthier people drop out of the system as
prices rise. Also, by further
entrenching the cost of healthcare in an employer and government based system Obama’s
plan separates cost from beneficiaries – preventing individual customers from
making proper cost-benefits analyses.
This will most certainly make health care more expensive.
McCain’s plan, however, embraces choice. Currently employers get a tax break for
supplying insurance. Instead of adding a
mandate requiring employers to provide insurance or suffer a tax, McCain would
pass the current tax break onto individuals so that they are no longer reliant
on the employer-based system. It would increase individualized competition and make health
insurance less expensive for the unemployed. This, in
and of itself, places his system ahead of Obama’s.
A McCain presidency could have all kinds of consequences, and voters cannot judge on healthcare plans alone. But for those outside the USA, comparing the two plans is a useful exercise as we all search for better healthcare systems.
McCain’s plan isn’t perfect, but in comparison to Obama’s it is more likely to provide greater access and lower costs to medical care.