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A Comparison of Health Care Policy in the 2008 Presidential Election

Posted Jul 17th, 2008 by Patient Assistance Team
Portable, affordable Health Care - at least two things Senators Barack Obama and John McCain can agree upon. Under both candidates’ health care plans, the cost of care would be significantly lower than it currently is, and would insure all Americans are covered. Health insurance would not be jeopardized from a change of job or time off between jobs. A few of each candidate’s points overlap, which is essentially good for Americans. But while each candidate has relatively original ideas, McCain’s health plan, found on a section of his Web site, is merely a preliminary outline in comparison to Obama’s detailed and thorough plan, also found on his own Web site.

Under McCain’s plan, every American family will receive a tax credit to “offset the cost of insurance.” Individuals would receive a credit worth $2,500 and families $5,000. With the option to choose the best provider for them, including employer-based coverage, that tax credit would be sent directly to their provider of choice. Americans who chose insurance costing less than the tax credits can deposit the leftover credit into an “expanded Health Saving Account.”

With plans to create a new national health care plan, Obama guarantees eligibility for every American. “No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions,” he states on his Web site. Obama cites simplicity and ease of use in terms of his plan. He will offer affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles, and describes a benefit package “similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program … the plan members of Congress have.”

Each ensures Americans with pre-existing health problems that they will be covered.

Both candidates want to encourage the flexibility some states have already adopted in regards to health care plans. While McCain says “states should have the flexibility to experiment with alternative forms of access, coordinated payments per episode covered under Medicaid, use of private insurance in Medicaid, alternative insurance policies,” etc, Obama plans to build on the ideas of those particular states and allow them to continue experimenting, “provided they meet the minimum standards” of his national health plan.

Requiring all providers who participate in his health plan, Medicare or the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, Obama plans to utilize proven disease management programs to improve care quality and lower costs. McCain, however, would like to dedicate “more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease” and stress early intervention and healthy habits to reduce health care costs. The use of new treatment models and information technology would assist in the reduction of health care costs as well, according to his plan.

Completely agreeing on the need for transparency about quality of care, cost and medical outcomes, both candidates will require that transparency from hospitals and providers in their own health plans, along with the requirement of publicizing treatment information and options.

Increasing competition in the drug markets is a part of both parties’ plans. While McCain simply says he will “look to bring greater competition to our drug markets through safe re-importation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs,” Obama’s plan is more detailed. He describes how he will allow Americans to purchase their prescriptions from other “developed countries” if the drugs are safe and prices are lower than in America. Obama says he will repeal the ban preventing the government from negotiations with drug companies, which could create a savings as high as $30 billion dollars, according to his plan. He will prohibit “big name drug companies” from leaving generic drugs out of markets and will also attempt to widen the use of generic drugs in Medicare, Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

After those few comparisons is where the candidates’ potential health care plans contrast. Jumping on the technology and information age bandwagon, McCain says he would use technology “to reduce costs,” and would use technology and information that would allow doctors to practice state-wide. Obama on the other hand, would use technology to “move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems,” changing medical records from paper to an electronic information system. He says he would invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to do so.

Disabled Americans would receive Medicaid and Medicare benefits under Obama’s plan in a time-efficient, low cost way. McCain makes no mention of the disabled in his Health Care Plan.

Obama hopes to further the biomedical research field because it creates a starting point for new therapies and diagnostics. According to him, an Obama administration would “ensure that we translate scientific progress into improved approaches to disease prevention, early detection and therapy that is available for all Americans.”

Continuing the fight against AIDS, Obama would promote a greater investment into that battle. Obama also outlines how he would improve Mental Health Care and obtain coverage for it like any other disease, reduce the risk of mercury pollution by curbing the amount of mercury deposited into the oceans, and help protect American’s children from lead poisoning by requiring child-care facilities to be lead-safe within five years.

In comparison, both John McCain and Barack Obama have sound structures for their potential Health Care Plans. They each state that every American will be covered under each other’s plans, which is essential. However, Barak Obama seems to have spent more time working out the kinks and details needed for pursing his plan, than John McCain has.

To find out more information about each candidates specific goals and reforms, please check out the following links:
Barack Obama's Health Care Reform Plan - 2008 Presidential Election
John McCain's Health Care Reform Plan - 2008 Presidential Election

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