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Uh, What Health-Care Plans?

Quick: Which presidential candidate's health-care plan is better for you and your family?

If you can answer that with any degree of certainty, I know some pollsters who'd like to have a word with you.

A poll released early this week suggests that people see only modest differences as to which presidential candidate's health-care plan will most benefit them personally. Conducted in mid-September by the Harvard Public Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harris Interactive, the survey found that among 935 registered voters, four in 10 (or two in five, right?) don't think either Sen. McCain's or Sen. Obama's plan would be better for them. (That figure broke down into 27 percent who didn't think there was much difference between the two plans and 13 percent who just plain didn't know if there'd be a difference.)

Of those who thought one or the other would help them more, Obama's plan came out on top, 33 percent to 27 percent favoring McCain's. The poll-takers viewed this as not bad for McCain, whose health-care agenda has generally lagged behind his rival's in popular opinion.

The real surprise to me, though, was that 935 registered voters had even studied the two plans enough to discern any differences between them. I've tried to slog my way through, and, believe me, it's tough going.

Turns out my assumption is off-base. Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, tells me there's no expectation among the poll-takers that the people polled have studied the sources in any depth at all. "The majority of people never look at the plans" themselves, he says. Instead, they glean their opinions from secondary sources: "They cue off media coverage, people they respect. If they're partisan, they cue off party leaders. If they run a business, they cue off the chamber [of commerce]."

Which, Blendon suggests, is entirely understandable. "I have enormous empathy for anyone who doesn't specialize in these fields trying to determine how these plans would affect their lives," he says. "It really is very hard to read these plans and figure out 'would my family be better protected or not?'"

Okay, Checkup readers, the challenge is on. Read both plans: Obama's and McCain's. Then let us know which one you think would be best for you (not for the country as a whole or the economy). Good luck!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  October 3, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Policy  
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Comments

Neither are very good.

Obama's takes away the consumer incentive to seek better care, and McCain's completely cuts folks loose from employer plans without any good transition.

If I had to pick, I'd say Obama's, because I know his plan will end up changing for the better in order to get it past the GOP filibuster in the Senate. McCain's plan is DOA in the House and Senate.

The best plan makes insurance portable by giving individuals the same tax break as business, allows individuals to buy into the government pool of risk, and focuses on a HDHP with HSA model to incent consumers to seek value (with some rewards for healthy behavior.)

Also, a separate pool for extremely expensive patients must be established and paid for by the govt. (Diabetes, Cancer, etc. would be covered under this system.)

Posted by: Mike Bailey | October 3, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I cannot afford health insurance now. I am self-employed, and still would not be able to afford health insurance with McCain's $2500.00

I am assuming that under Obama's plan, I would be able to buy into a plan based on my ability to pay. That works for me!

Posted by: Maria | October 3, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Well I come from New Zealand where we have government managed health care. It's not without its own problems (such as long waiting lists for elective surgery such as hip replacement etc) but it is very good otherwise.

My impression last night from watching the VP debate is that Obama is leaning towards Federaly managed health care whereas McCain would just cut each person (family?) a check for $5k to buy their own.

I'm not sure if that's 100% accurate but certainly what I understood from last night. so I would have to say Obama's is the best.

Posted by: Shawn B. | October 3, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I currently have good coverage, so the biggest difference for me is that McCain's plan would make my benefits taxable, which could very well put me into a higher tax bracket. Even subtracting out the $2500 tax credit he proposes, I think I'd still end up paying more in taxes and my coverage would not change.

Posted by: Jen | October 3, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Obama's plan is not quite federally managed healthcare. It is more like Massachusetts' mandated health insurance where people with lower incomes receive subsidies. The theory is that people who do have insurance end up paying a lot to cover those who don't and that those without insurance (a) are significantly more likely to not get needed care and (b) often end up paying more for medical bills than they would for an insurance premium, especially if they qualified for a subsidy.

Posted by: Aaron | October 3, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The time is now!
To remind Americans that Barack Hussein Obama is just another politician that will do or say whatever it takes to fulfill his political ambitions. Barack is calculated and methodical about hiding his true convictions and intentions, and uses deception to get elected.

The time is now!
For Americans to remember Barack Hussein Obama’s intimate 20 year relationship with the Priest of Hate, Jeremiah Wright, who blessed Barack and Michelle marriage and baptized both their daughters. AND, to remember the hideous videos of Jeremiah Wright’s congregation which included the Obamas, damning America with bombastic joy, after the Muslim’s criminal attack on America on 9/11.

The time is now!
For Americans to remember how Barack's Priest of Hate, Jeremiah Wright used his tax-exempt church to exercise a radical political agenda, and how he refers to Israel, as well as America, as a "racist" State. Barack's religious leader, Jeremiah Wright believes that the true 'Chosen People' are the blacks; and that black values are superior to middle-class American values.
 Indeed Barack's Priest of Hate, Jeremiah Wright is a black supremacist.

The time is now!
To remind Americans that Barack Hussein Obama wants to be president to implement Jeremiah Wright’s dream of a black supremacist society in America.

The time is now!
For Americans of all political parties to come together to preserve the future of the country we love and have always been proud of, by voting for a True American Patriot and War Hero who risked his life for our country:
John McCain for President of the United States of America.

Country First!
Americans for John McCain/Sarah Palin

Posted by: Manolete | October 3, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

D STUDENT OBSCENELY RICH WALL STREET OILLLLLL MILLIONAIRE CRASH EVERY PLANE,MCCAIN WAS A D STUDENT AND GRADUATE LAST IN HIS CLASS.MCCAIN AND MCBUSH OBSCENELY RICH WALL STREET OILLLLLL MILLIONAIRE SHARE FAILED ACADEMIC RECORDS.

IRISH AMERICAN AND LAW SCHOLAR BARACK OBAMA WORKED HARD AND BECAME PRESIDENT OF THE HAVARD LAW REVIEW.

D STUDENT OBSCENELY RICH WALL STREET OILLLLL MILLIONAIRE CRASH EVERY PLANE MCCAIN IS ALSO INTERNET ILLITERATE WHICH SLOW DOWN HIS INFORMATION PROCESSING CAPACITY.
IS THIS GOOD FOR AMERICA!

IRISH AMERICAN BARACK OBAMA'S HAVARD SCHOLARSHIP RANKS AMONG THE BEST.IRISH AMERICAN AND HAVARD LAW SCHOLAR BARACK OBAMA HARD WORK REPRESENT AMERICAN DREAM.

Posted by: NETHERLANDS ANTILLES | October 3, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

If we can afford $300 billion per year on a stupid war (probably a lot more than that because much of the expenditure is excluded from the budget), $700 billion (and probably a lot more) to bail out financial institution bond holders, earmarks, and tons of other corrupt spending waste, why can't we afford universal health coverage? Why can't most people see that none of that rhetoric about deregulation and free market benefitted anyone except the rich, and why can't average people see that the rich only need them for enslavement? Could it be a constant flow of media propaganda telling them what to think?

Posted by: dp | October 3, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I've read through both plans.
As someone who is self-employed and currently purchases insurance directly, I had previously thought McCain's plan would be better for me. After studying the two, I now think Obama's would be better for me.

Posted by: Josh | October 3, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Obama's plan will cover more people in the end with better oversight of the insurance companies. Opening health care to the "free market" doesn't mean making change.
I lost a son this year because he didn't have access to health care until his cancer was too advanced to cure -- even though the doctors knew it was very likely he had colon cancer. His medical records show he didn't have access to a colonoscopy because he couldn't pay for it.
"Patient needs a colonoscopy but can't afford it."
Until that changes, until every American has real access to quality health care, no one's policy goes far enough.
Some 30,000 Americans will die this year because they couldn't get care.
Obama's plan will take bigger steps, but it is not the full solution. McCain's plan is more of the same.

Posted by: Leslie Boyd | October 3, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

BOTH plans fail to take into account that right now, the QUALITY of care, across the board is less than 60%. Conversely, the insurance industry has a 40% overheaad, and it's employees are some of the best compensated in America. The math is pretty easy to figure on this.

Look at the how the numbers and costs add up. It's not rocket science.

As someone who was poisoned by a doctor blithely following 'safe practice' protocols put in front of her by her MALPRACTICE insurance, I learned firsthand that it IS insurance *itself* that is the root of the problem. If insurers got out of the business of mandating 'averaged' group treatments for individuals, the chances of medical errors would diminish and people could get the care they need *without* costly complications. How novel an idea is medicine that gets it right the first time! Less visits, better diagnoses, individually tailored care and better outcomes all for LESS.

Frankly, I'm not having one bit of insurance OR a doctor's snake-oil ministrations until the insurance industry is out of the picture and the overall quality of service goes up.

My health is too important to let some mandated, protocol-driven, damage-control oriented medical flunky with the 4th and 13th letters of the alphabet after his name run it into the ground once more.

Thanks, but that's not a ride I want to repeat ever again.

Break the industry that's broken American healthcare: Boycott insurance

Deb.

Posted by: Deborah Terrson | October 3, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Obama hands down.

Insurance rises every year meanwhile you get restricted more. Agencies look for any little detail to weasel their way out of paying for something. McCain wants to tax people on company insurance so he can give a credit of 2500 to singles and 5000 to families? I don't see how that is effective enough to give everyone insurance in the long run. 5000 for a family just doesn't seem like it will matter in 4-5 years down the line when premiums go up and we are back in the same boat but worse. The last thing I want to do is give more money to insurance companies as McCain will do with the 2500 or 5000, so I say NO to McCain's proposal.

Obama's isn't the greatest, but it is more logical and would help more people in the long run. Tax breaks for small businesses that incorporate tax plans along with the federal program to help those who otherwise would not be able to get insurance. This is better for both businesses and individuals.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

As one of the "traditionally uninsurable", I have spent a lot of time researching this issue and Obama is better for me.

McCain's system puts people like me into separate and unequal state plans like the California Major Risk Program.

The Major Risk program, while definitely preferable to nothing, is still inadequate. For example, the yearly cap on benefits is $75k. This may sound like a lot, but I have gone over that amount at least 6 times in the last 20 years.

Obama's program also included better details on cost saving such as the disease management program. My current insurance through my husband's job has this and they called me up and reminded me I needed a pneumonia vaccination. That probably saved me from a 5 day hospitalization.

Posted by: Janet | October 3, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, under Obama's plan, if you have coverage under your employer, nothing will change. You will still get your same coverage from your employer. Obama is actually taking responsibility for making sure that the 46 million Americans that have no coverage have access to health care and Mandates that all children be covered. It also guarantees coverage to those who are excluded from coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

McCain's plan is terrifying. He claims it's important cover everyone and to cover those with pre-existing conditions, but the only thing he will do about is "create a model" for states to execute. WFT? So, in the middle of terrible economic times where nearly every state is running a deficit, the states, who clearly have done nothing to fix the problem before, are suddenly going to do so because McCain gives them a model which he himself won't execute. Really?

It's clear, under McCain's plan, people with pre-existing conditions will not be covered. McCain himself would not be covered under his own plan. Good thing he married a rich heiress.

Even scarier, McCain is going to tax your employer for providing your health insurance. Allot of people, according to estimates, 21 million people, will be dropped by their employer because of this and will have to get insurance on the open market. You better pray that you are not one of those 21 million AND you have a pre-existing condition. What are those working Americans supposed to do? I guess they will just have to quit their jobs, leave their families, and find a rich heiress to marry.

Posted by: David | October 3, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Let's have a rational conversation and skip the racist hate-talk of the prior post by "Manolete"
I work in healthcare and I see many of those patients who have no insurance--my employer (a hospital) offers charity care but this means that the premiums for all of us who are insured are higher to compensate for the increased costs of treating the uninsured. I also work with diabetes education, essential for prevention of chronic complications which are extremely costly in terms of human suffering, economic productivity, and health care expenses. Obama's plan actually addresses prevention, so it is the better plan. And personally, as an insured person (as long as I retain my job, which depends on the economy), I do not want to be taxed for my health insurance. The value of my premiums is about 10K per year and I have a normal plan, nothing extra, and no dependents on the plan. McCain would only give me 5K credit. I would be much worse off, and so would my patients. People with pre-existing conditions would be covered under Obama's plan but under McCain's plan there is no guarantee that we (I am one) would be able to find an insurance plan that would cover us, much less for the paltry (in healthcare costs terms) sum of 5K. I am one of the apparently few who had read both plans in detail about a month ago in order to make my decision.
THANKS
Denise Cedar

Posted by: Denise Cedar | October 3, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

OK, I read Obama's plan and it's clear that while it doesn't go as far as I'd like, it's a good compromise and a good start, and my wife and I would be much better off with it. Why? Because right now,the only insurance available to my wife and me carries an $800/month premium, has a $5000 deductible, only covers 80% of "allowable" costs after the deductible, and excludes our preexisting conditions, which are why we need health insurance anyway.

McCain's tax credit is the same tired crap we've been getting from Republicans for decades. A $5000 tax credit doesn't do you much good when you don't make enough to pay $5000 in taxes anyway. In other words, Obama's plan does SOMETHING. McCain's plan does nothing.

Posted by: Terry | October 3, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Washinton Post, the American people, if they understand, would not like a government controlled health plan. My husband worked in England and we have friends there. Most who work and can have what they call "Private Insurance", which means not the government controlled plan. Sure, it sounds good "to have every American covered by health insurance" but what does this mean? It means HMO, HMO type insurance were you have to wait for operations and are told what and when you can have treatment, if you can. We need to fix what we have NOW. Somehow get affordable insurance to the uninsured. I'm on GOVERNMENT controlled Medicare now; my husband and I pay about $1,000 a month for supplemental medicare insurance (which is in a company group from which my husband retired) plus our monthly medical fees, and WE HAVE PROBLEMS FINDING DOCTORS WHO WILL ACCEPT MEDICARE SUPPLEMENTS AND WE LIVE IN HOUSTON, TX., THE FOURTH LARGEST CITY. If we have the government tell us what insurance we will have, we will really be in a mess.

Uh, Washington Post, you get it?????? Quit picking on Palin.

Posted by: Mad as hell about bias news | October 3, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

As Shakespere said, "Kill all the lawyer". Our health insurance costs would go down drastically because everyone is suing doctors these days and doctors can no longer afford malpractice insurance.

Any guess what: both Obama and Biden are lawyers. Shakespere must be turning in his grave.

Posted by: Common Sense | October 3, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I have very good insurance through my employer. McCain's plan would be a disaster for me. I would have to start paying taxes on my health plan benefit, which might be covered by his concurrent tax credit, but since I would get a tax cut from Obama it is clear that I am better off with the Obama plan, even in the short term.

In the long run, McCain's plan might cause my employer to stop offering health coverage. If that happened it would blow a huge hole in my budget, and I would not be able to afford the same quality of coverage.

In the long run, Obama's plan has the potential of developing a workable national system similar to the congressional coverage. I like that I would have the option of switching to that plan if it was better.

I believe that McCain's plan is part of the larger Republican effort to end employer provided health coverage in favor of market-driven individual coverage. It is possible that there could be a fair system of competing plans, but the transition to such a system should be carefully managed. McCain's plan aims to destabilize the current system without offering any kind of rational transition to a new one. That is a bad idea that will hurt people.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | October 3, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

For everyone that is trying to say Obama's plan is a "federal" or a "government" plan, you should be ashamed. Obama's plan is NOT a Government controlled plan. If you have insurance now, nothing will change. Save your LIES for less important issues. These are issues that put peoples lives at stake and you should be ashamed.

Posted by: David | October 3, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

After reading both plans McCain's plan would have the greatest NEGATIVE effect on me. I am a small business owner with company paid insurance for myself and my employees. McCain's plan would convert the health insurance benefit to taxable income not only raising the income of each employee and this federal, state and social security taxes but would also require the employee to pay social security tax on the health insurance premium. Though $5000.00 to each family ($2500.00 to an individual) is a rebate and not a tax cut, the rebate still would not cover the increase in taxes by making the health insurance taxable.

For example, as a family in the 25% federal income bracket in MD (8% state tax) and (8 % social security/Medicare) there is a total of 41% taxes. Our family health care plan cost approximately $15,000 per year. The employee tax burden on the insurance is 41% of $15,000.00 or $6,150.00. With a tax refund of $5,000.00 this results in a $1,150.00 tax increase for that family. In addition as an employer we pay matching social security/Medicare taxes, (8% of $15,000.00) resulting in an added employer tax of $1,200.00.

McCain’s plan would burden both the employee and employer with more taxes.

Posted by: Dennis | October 3, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

A H Manolete. But I do pity republicans who as we know have the lowest IQ among humans..LOL

Posted by: Dixy | October 3, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

*** To David ***

I certainly hope you were not referring to my comment regarding Obama's plan being a Government run program. I think I certainly made it clear that I am under that impression after watching last night's debate.

Rather than use such provocative language as "should be ashamed" and "spread your LIES," you might try to use a reasonable and logical explanation rather than vitriol.

After all, are we not all adults here? Or perhaps you would prefer it if we stoop to your level and simply say things like, “you are clearly biased towards the Republican party and ignored everything that Joe Biden said and, therefore, do not have a balanced view and we should all just dismiss your opinion?”

Think about it.

Shawn

Posted by: Shawn B. | October 3, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama's plan works for me because I have a pre-existing condition, and he proposes that insurers accept people with those conditions.

With McCain's plan, I'd have to go through a high risk pool, which my state has, but premiums are about double what regular rates are and the coverage only lasts for 12 or 18 months (I can't remember the exact timeframe; it's been about 5 years since I checked into this). That would be about $1000 per month for premiums (based on what my employer's rates are now), or $12,000 per year for one person. Even if McCain were to double the $2500 tax credit for individuals with pre-existing conditions, I'd still be on the hook for $7000 annually in premiums alone. That's a lot of money. And if my employer drops employee health insurance group coverage, which many analysts expect to happen under McCain's plan, what on earth will I do after the high risk pool coverage timeframe expires?

Posted by: Betsy | October 3, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Fact is, neither one of them is even an improvement. We need a single payer plan that gets insurance companies out of the loop.

To waste time on either of these plans is like a starving man sitting in his hut debating the merits of eating paper or shoe leather when he should be out looking for real food.

Posted by: No Fool | October 3, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I would love to have the healthcare plan enjoyed by congress. Can we all get that, please? Yes to government run health care - Sweden, Canada, France has a variation, most developed societies do this. Why can't we? Time to use some tax revenue on the taxpayers. This would relieve a huge burden from business as well - not just the premium expense, but also the time in insurance industry paperwork.

Posted by: rjbunny | October 3, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Its odd that health care is not available for everyone in the USA. In my country everyone has it. You just got to make sure that you pay your yearly healthcarepremium which is about 60 Euro's. There are extra possibilities but the basic stays the same for everyone unless you miss the basic premium (and even then there is still a solution). Combine with a policy of generic medicins. I already had cancer in 98/99 when I still was looking for a job. Would that of ment in the USA that "I would of been screwed?"

Posted by: Aaron | October 3, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Could it be a constant flow of media propaganda telling them what to think?"


But the media is completely LIBERAL, remember? They are not influenced at all by their wealthy owner/operators...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I AM VERY SCARED ABOUT EITHER HEALTH PLAN, THEY NEED TO GO BACK TO THE TABLE AND WORK ON IT AS THEY ARE WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE NOT THEM

Posted by: trisha | October 3, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey Manolete - the time is now!

for you to answer the actual question.

Your repeated use of Obama's middle name show you for what you really are.

Posted by: mjj | October 3, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Making health care "free" doesn't improve it or make it more accessible.

Might want to ask why they need care, people from virtually every country on the planet come to the United States to get it.

Having worked in health care for 17 years I can tell you that the care, technology, and advanced medical techniques in the US are about 20 years ahead of Western Europe. While the technology side is improving, access still sucks and is getting worse.........reality doesn't lie.

As a very obvious example which everyone can see - There is no predisposition to those from the UK needing orthodontia (braces) or having bad teeth. But time and time again you see & hear jokes about their terrible teeth. While it's dental and not medical - they are "entitled" to "free" dental care just the same as they are entitled to free medical care.

Again, I only point of the lack of quality (and accessibility) in the area of dentistry because it’s easier to see than an issue with Nephrolithiasis or Hereditary NonPolyposis Colorectal Cancer.

But of course you, who have spent less than a week in the hospital and that was when you were born, wouldn't know an aneurism from a hemorrhoid (which in the case of liberals I presume will be located fairly close together), will know more than I and continue to spew your mind numbing, banal, drivel in an attempt to get yet one more government freebie instead of paying for it yourself.

Posted by: Obama - the Socialists' puppet | October 3, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I cant help but wonder..If congress is about to pass an 700+ Billion dollar plan to save wallstreet (and ourselves by proxy), was it always in their power to propose some kind of health insurance plan for all Americans?

Much like the attention Pelosi brought to the 35 billion dollar infrastructure plan, which seems like a drop in the bucket now.

It seems like one of those"pay no attention to the man behind the curtain moments. Washington is definitely broken.

Posted by: Wait a second | October 3, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"I would love to have the healthcare plan enjoyed by congress. Can we all get that, please? Yes to government run health care - Sweden, Canada, France has a variation, most developed societies do this. Why can't we? Time to use some tax revenue on the taxpayers. This would relieve a huge burden from business as well - not just the premium expense, but also the time in insurance industry paperwork."


But that would kill the medical insurance industry and likely lead to increased regulation of medical costs. Both of these industries pay big money to the Republican party. Don't EVER expect Republican support of this. They will label it "socialism", since they can all easily afford their own coverage...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"As a very obvious example which everyone can see - There is no predisposition to those from the UK needing orthodontia (braces) or having bad teeth. But time and time again you see & hear jokes about their terrible teeth. While it's dental and not medical - they are "entitled" to "free" dental care just the same as they are entitled to free medical care."


The reason that English have bad teeth is because they are not as superficial as Americans. It is the social norm there, much like unnatural perfection is here. There is not an issue of availability of treatment. There are fewer dentists and orthodontists in England because the DEMAND is much lower...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"I already had cancer in 98/99 when I still was looking for a job. Would that of ment in the USA that "I would of been screwed?""


Worse. You'd be dead...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Any health care plan that leaves insurance companies in control is a bad plan. Insurance companies are driven by profit and what better way to make a profit than by collecting premiums and denying health care. Insurance companies reward employees who save them money by down grading treatment plans or simply not approving treatment. Doctors are no longer in control of treatment. Their options are limited by the insurance companies. In short, insurance company accounting departments are determining the quality of health care in the U.S. for those that have insurance and denying treatment and coverage because it helps their bottom line. They take their profits and invest them in the stock market. When Wall Street flounders like it has been lately, insurance companies raise their premiums to make up their loses in speculative investments.

Doctors are not practicing the best medicine they can, are not able to prescribe the best treatments they want to, and they cannot afford to service the uninsured.

Therefore, neither Obama nor McCain are offering a viable solution to America's health care system. The only plan that will work is one that gets the middle man - the insurance industry - out of the loop. After all they do not add anything to the doctor-patient relationship. They simply stand in the middle and skim most of the money out of the system. There is so much waste in the system. The government could do a much better job at much less cost. No industrialized nation spends as much per patient as we do and every one of them has better quality care and covers all of their citizens.

Even in a national health care plan such as in Canada and England, the rich can still have their private doctors. Doctors that are part of the national plan can have private patients. The insurance companies are spending billions of their obscene profits in brainwashing the American public to think that a national plan is "socialist" and evil government intervention. But they don't seem to think it is socialism to handout $700 billion to Wall Street.

Given the choice between giving a trillion dollars to the truly greedy and giving health care to the truly needy - where is our priority?

Posted by: lorax2 | October 3, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

"But of course you, who have spent less than a week in the hospital and that was when you were born, wouldn't know an aneurism from a hemorrhoid (which in the case of liberals I presume will be located fairly close together), will know more than I and continue to spew your mind numbing, banal, drivel in an attempt to get yet one more government freebie instead of paying for it yourself."


The problem is so much more complicated than that. Fewer and fewer people can afford health care every year. Some could NEVER afford it.

Worse still, most of the people who ARE insured are drastically UNDER INSURED should they have any serious medical issues. Somewhere around 33% (some studies go as high as 50%) of bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses. More than 50% (some studies say as high as 73%) of these people HAD INSURANCE when their medical difficulties began.

Insurance companies make money by OVERCHARGING for coverage and NOT PAYING CLAIMS. Until that gets fixed, we're all just one major illness away from destitution...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Remember too, under a McCain type plan you have better access to large insurers like Blue Cross that are accepted many, many places. For any kind of federal plan, you will have overhead and oversight that will cause many doctors and hospitals to simply not accept these types of patients.

Time is money and as anyone knows, anything with government oversight is simply not as efficient as any kind of private version.

Posted by: Mark | October 3, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for clearing that up lorax2...much appreciated.

Washington is broken by private interest.

Posted by: Wait a second | October 3, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Remember too, under a McCain type plan you have better access to large insurers like Blue Cross that are accepted many, many places. For any kind of federal plan, you will have overhead and oversight that will cause many doctors and hospitals to simply not accept these types of patients."


Actually, as many here have pointed out. You don't HAVE to join the federal coverage under Obama's plan. You can keep your current plan, with incentives given to your employer to help you pay for it.

Under McCain's plan, your employer will have incentive to NOT cover you. Employer benefits will be taxed for both you and your employer. You will get a $2500 or $5000 check that won't cover half of the average premium on health insurance. Should your employer still choose to shell out the money, despite losing incentives AND gaining taxes on it, you still would not break even. But it MUST be the better deal because a Republican is promoting it, right???

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Time is money and as anyone knows, anything with government oversight is simply not as efficient as any kind of private version."


Look how efficiently the financial sector lost all of our "time" due to their freedom from government oversight...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

MCCAIN PICK_UP A DIMWITTED COCKTAIL WAITRESS,WHOSE HER BEST FEATURE IS HER GLASSES.
SHE CAN'T EVEN PRONOUNCE NUCLEAR INSTEAD SHE SAID (NUKULAR) AN IDIOT.
LAST NIGHT SHE JUST RECITE THE THINGS MCCAIN WRITE FOR HER,LIKE A ROBOT.SHE'S NOT A POLITICIAN,SHE'S A WAITRESS.
IF WE WANT TO WEIGHT A CANDIDATES,LET'S START FROM THEIR EDUCATION....

Posted by: NETHERLANDS ANTILLES | October 3, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

i'M AN IDIOT. pLEASE FORGIVE ME...

Posted by: mANOLETE | October 3, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

#1 There will be no healthcare changes no matter who gets elected. There is not enough money to go around.

#2 Sad to say, we are probably better off without any tinkering from the government, unless you like how they managed freddie and fannie.

Posted by: peterg | October 3, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

As a professional analyst it is hard to see why American People don't see throgh Republication web of confusion regarding health care. Anay way you frame, Obama plan is better for the middle class, the working class, small business owners, the poor the uninsured and the ones who are routinely denied insurance due to alleged pre-esisting conditions. The only people who benifit from the McCain plan are the insurance companies. I am really surprised why none of the so called liberal newspaper have issued blanket alerts analysing the merits of the Obama plans or stating in laying terms who will benefit.

Posted by: Raj | October 3, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I worked for United Health Care as a direct broker (second largest in the US) and I can tell you that McCain's plan will leave many people with inferior coverage. The insurance company's will be involved (they are the second largest wall street investors behind banks) either way. Private plans do not cover MANY expenses that you are used to having under an employer, or group plan. Obama's plan essentially gives you group coverage meaning the healthy will help offset the costs of the sick. The rich will help offset the impoverished. You really dont want private insurance. Just call and start asking their sales staff specifics about deductibles and you will see.

Posted by: Matthew | October 3, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

There MUST be laws passed to allow for pre-existing conditions as well. I've heard stories that would make anyone with a heart or conscience cry. This country used to help the people and it's time to start doing so again.

Posted by: Matthew | October 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama's plan would begin to make the changes we really need. Our current system is a disaster. In our great Nation today, 1/2 the people declaring bankrupcy do so becasue of health care costs. 1/2 of those people have health insurance. Health insurance is very expensive - too expensive for many people who are barely scraping by. It is so expensive because anyone who has insurance is paying for the free loaders. And it's not fair to blame the free loaders - imagine, if you get sick enough to lose your job you also lose your coverage. So, we need a safety net. That's what Obama's plan does. We do not need more taxes on our employer plans and then a tax credit for the lucky ones who can afford to buy insurance - McCain's plan will lead to employers reducing ccoverage and make it even more likley that people will choose to just go without coverage and then we'll all end up paying for these folks anyhow when they inevitably get sick and wind up in the hospital and declaring bankrupcy. McCain's proposal will increase the free loader problem.

Posted by: Seth | October 3, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I am a senior citizen living on a very small income. Although I currently have Medicare Part B (which does not cover preventative care, dental, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and many other things that seniors really need), it is unlikely that I will be able to continue to afford that as the costs for food and home heating keep going up. Medicare Part A (which I don't have to pay extra for) provides only hospital coverage, but not enough to cover most hospitalizations, so I worry if I had to be hospitalized that I could lose my modest home. Medicare Part D is utterly useless to me (I can buy my prescription drugs at Costco for the same and sometimes for a lesser amount than I pay through Part D). Nevertheless, the fear mongers have me frightened into the possibility that I might at some point require very expensive non-generic drugs that I could not afford without prescription insurance, so each year I shop for the cheapest possible coverage "just in case". I fear this may be representative of "government" health care. I have read both Obama's and McCain's plans. They both mention Medicare "excesses", but neither addresses my issues. I am also aware that presidential candidates promise many things, but few of the promises get implemented, and even those that do get implemented frequently bear little resemblance to what the voter may have expected. So,

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Only one previous comment has even touched on what is likely the driving force behind the health care "crisis" in this country: the out-of-control "malpractice" trial lawyers.

I would invite readers to read with an open mind the evidence of what has happened to our healthcare system as a result. Note especially the graph which compares the rise in medical costs to malpractice litigation costs:

http://www.triallawyersinc.com/healthcare/hc01.html

Posted by: WeNeedREALchange | October 3, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Having watched the crises in the medical world during the Reagan years (with government charging doctors for fraud when in fact many cases were Medicare billing errors which did not necessarily cost the government any money) and similar things under Democratic governors in the State of Washington, I do not trust the government to run a single-payer system. Note that this isn't even about political party since the examples I have seen come from both sides of the isle.

We need real health care reform and unfortunately neither candidate really wants to tackle the hard issues behind rising health-care costs. These include:
1) Pharmaceutical companies subsidizing sales to price-controlling companies by raising prices here at home
2) Runaway litigation (some litigation may be called for in some cases, but we should change the way some things work to discourage bringing questionable cases to court).
3) Incorrect regulation. (Yes we need regulation but some of it, such as requiring third-party labs is actually making the problem worse.)

Secondarily, there *is* a problem with the poor being unable to afford health care and ending up using the bankrupcy system as their insurance plan. When I was starting my business, that was my plan if anything should happen (now I have actual insurance). However, this is a secondary problem caused by the rise in health-care costs. Unless one tackles the other problems, it won't get better.

BTW, on the litigation end, my major concern is watching the skyrocketing costs of Obstetrics care in my state and noting that the rising price of malpractice insurance is a major part of it. There is no reason why this field should be as legally risky as it is.

Posted by: Both are bad | October 3, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Under McCain's plan I'd venture that 75% of you wouldn't get a clean policy. You would have "riders" attached, if they covered you at all. There is no mental health coverage in most states, and if you have ever recieved treatment for mental health or alcohol/drugs/depression, you can kiss your insurance goodbye. I had to leave the field because I could not handle the depression I felt. Private insurance is only for the healthy and it actually promote's that you dont seek preventitive treatment (they wont cover it).

Posted by: Matthew | October 3, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Both the plans offered by the Democrats and the Republicans offer some hope.

I just don't trust either party to deliver. Both parties have been aware of the issues for years, but neither party has been sucessful correcting them.

What has Senator Obama, Senator Biden, Senator McCain, Representative McKinney, or Representative Barr accomplished during their terms of office to further health care reform? Does being ineffective in the legislature qualify someone to be an executive? Why should I reward any of these people with more power, when they squandered the power they were given?

I plan on voting for my pet dog. He acts as though he cares and manages to look thoughtful, which is as much as the human candidates have done.

Posted by: Crazy Huey | October 3, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

A final thought: I dont care because Phish is back! Woo--hoo! I'm going back on tour!

Posted by: Matthew | October 3, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

For me, a small business owner, I have experienced a 3 fold increase in my premiums in the past 7 years, while my benefits have decreased. For people with even a mild pre existing condition like high blood pressure for instance, the insurance companies hold all the cards and can determine the premium price. I prefer Obama's plan because it forces insurance companies to cover these people. Having said that, the average American family pays around $1,000 per month for health insurance which is nearly a quarter of the mean family income in America. We pay these high premiums, Insurance companies make high profits, and when it comes time to pay, they either limit coverage, or in the case of Katrina for instance, look to the tax payers to bail out their profits. I think that Insurance should be nationalized. Big losses for Insurance companies have a habit of being socialized anyway. Yes, the federal government is beaurocratic, but then so are Insurance companies. The main reason I think we should have national insurance is the cost. We are paying for enormous profits. The cost of these profits increases our premiums by 300-400%. No amount of government inefficiency is going to do as badly as that.

Posted by: Brian | October 3, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Health care should be a non-profit organization. When insurance companies are out to make a profit, the easist way is to turn down patients, or to overcharge premiums.

When music became easy to download, "artists" stopped making music for money, and started making it for art again.

When doctors become less paid, people will stop becoming doctors to get rich, and start becoming doctors to help people.

Sure we will have less doctors, but eventually we will be able to pay each one more, and the "doctor economy" will rebund with people filling in the empty doctor jobs who actually care about other people.

Posted by: Tim | October 3, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I get taxing health insurance as income. I get businesses can still provide group health care if they choose. I think I get that I would need an income high enough that my tax cost is more than the $2500 refund McCain offers. What I don't get are offers of personal health care costs anywhere near as low as $2500 if my job doesn't provide a group policy. Excuse my skepticism for Obama's plan. All those competing insurance companies are going to join together to provide comprehensive coverage paid for by businesses who then receive a 50 percent tax credit for costs or Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) will provide it at a cost we can afford. Any indication how either plan will keep doctor or hospital fees down now that everyone has coverage? These government plans have as much chance of helping my medical costs as social security has of ensuring my retirement costs.

Posted by: Art Carl | October 3, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I have represented health insurers and am married to somebody with emphysema. I have seen many health insurers' applications. Be assured that if the McCain plan were to pass, you would be one of the lucky ones if you only have to pay taxes on your currently untaxed health benefits. Those with a condition now won't have any coverage. Even those of us who think we're healthy will find out we're bad risks and uninsuranble. And if we forget to mention on the application that we saw our doctor 3 years ago for a cough, the policy will be canceled the moment we need it most. The McCain plan will hurt many many people.

Posted by: Nancy | October 3, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Lets see, currently for just my health coverage my employer pays 4k a year and I pay another thousand out of my own pocket. Under McCain's plan I would get a $2500 tax credit that would leave me $2500 in the hole assuming I could get the same rate as my employer that covers thousands of people.

Posted by: Omega | October 3, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

For us who gets employers sponsored health care, Mccain's plan is catastrophe,average insurance cost 14000 a year per family , let's see if is person make 50k a under Mccain's plan this person have to pay tax on(50k + 14000 - 5000) that is raising taxes.

Posted by: Tony | October 3, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

If McCain's healthcare plan goes through, I will make $11000 less dollars next year if I have the same health insurance that I have this year.

That is a 40% increase in my taxes. No thanks McCain.

Posted by: Tim | October 3, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Good article. I took a few moment to revisit the plans.

1. Neither plan will work unless costs are reduced!

Obama's approach is to invest in updating hospital infrastructures with TAXPAYER money.

McCain's approach is to remove regulations and allow the market to lower costs.

While I am not one for bigger government. In this case, Obama's plan makes more sense.

1. De-regulated insurance companies can't lower the basic costs of hospital stays. Increased competition doesn't work there.

2. By nature of being selective middlemen, the free-market incentive for insurance companies is to insure fewer (but healthier) people. They don't make money by insuring the sick.

--------------------------

I have been generally disappointed with McCain's policies. He has been more of an idealogue than a pragmatist. Free market is great for banks, tech, and maybe even education. Not so great for healthcare.

Looking at factcheck.org, McCain's plan is not expected to cover even 10% of the uninsured. I don't understand why he would propose this--- and then call it a solution.

Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008
Obama-Biden 2008

Posted by: Chris Stewart | October 3, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

i love the argument about universal health care being not as good as we have here. doctors not being as good, longer waits etc... all of that is total BS. and the comment about a majority of people coming to the US to get health care. yeah right. the fact is if you need something done you can get it in europe. here? youre screwed. id say that having any kind of basic health care is better than none at all. also i loved the comment about our medical care being 20 years ahead of europes. you might want to research that claim a little more.

Posted by: gabe | October 3, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Mad as Hell: This is the Washington Post. Accept the fact they will criticize Republicans until the cows come home. Everything that is wrong with the world is the fault of Republicans. Global warming, the economy, skin cancer, acid rain, Princess Diana's death -- it's all because of the Republicans. Some a-hole even blamed the murder of two young girls in Maryland by their deranged and mentally defective adopted mother as the fault of George Bush! No doubt the Republican-bashing will continue after McCain gets elected. And that snarky fashion Nazi Robin Givhan will find fault with every stitch of clothes Sarah Palin owns. It's just the nature of the beast. If you want unbiased news and opinions, don't read the Washington Compost.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Forced to choose, I prefer McCain's approach, but I agree that neither plan even comes close to providing a viable solution. In my view, the moment any government agency has a hand in the process, either in the form of subsidies or direct management, it's headed the wrong direction from the start. I mean seriously, have we already forgotten the abuse at Walter Reed?

The irony is that the same folks who are critical of the government's current economic and foreign policy are some of the strongest supporters of government-sponsored health care. (Hey, I agree, the current administration has done irreparable damage; I'm certainly no fan of our imperialistic Middle East policy.) The question is, do I really want the same people who brought us Watergate, Vietnam, and Iraq in charge of the quality of my health care?

No thanks, I'll pass. I just hope I still have the freedom to do so.

Posted by: Ogrady | October 3, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Neither one of these plans address one of the biggest issues... cost! I am well insured, but still have to pay $120 to have some guy look up my nose to tell me I might have allergies.
People who pay for insurance need the insurance companies to actually pay for treatment. Hospitals, doctors, drug companies, need to have some control put on their pricing. Neither of these plans directly address the cost issue.

Posted by: Matt | October 3, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"The irony is that the same folks who are critical of the government's current economic and foreign policy are some of the strongest supporters of government-sponsored health care."

It's probably more of a testament about how impossibly screwed up our current system is. And, what's the only alternative to our current insurance company run system? A system without insurance companies.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"wouldn't know an aneurism from a hemorrhoid"


LMAO, isnt a hemorrhoid an aneurysm of sorts? Still funny either way.

Posted by: HaHa | October 3, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll go with whatever Ron Paul would support. Probably neither of these plans.

Posted by: SC | October 3, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The one thing I don't want is the government to be my Big Brother watching over every thing I do.

Posted by: SC | October 3, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Biden was right... McCain's plan i sthe ultimate bridge to nowhere. I'd lose my coverage and the $5000 to cover my family would leave me with a LOT more to pay out of pocket each month to get anything near comparable coverage to what I have now. Oh, and I have preconditions. If M/P are voted in I am screwed.

Posted by: Lorax | October 3, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I have a reasonable health insurance by my employer and a very stable job. Still I lived in Europe for more than 10 years. The government ran health system is less complicated. You need something done? The government provides it for you. If you do not like what they offer you can go to a private. The availability of the government health care REALLY brings the prices of private health care down. My family experienced critical health situations in the US and in Europe. No comparison! In the US the provider wants to get out of paying, sends you a million letters, you need to make endless phone calls. They use the money they receive to fight you so they don't have to pay. It is probably cheaper to hire a secretary that bombards you with letters for a year than paying for your surgery. On top of that, the government employees do not get multimillion bonuses that every CEO of a private company expects. It is a nobrainer. Europeans have enjoyed government health insurance now for a century in some cases and do not want to give it up. Nobody even proposes to get rid of it. They look at us and wonder "what is wrong with them?"

Posted by: Maritza | October 3, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

so my fiancee read the plans today and encouraged me to do so, i came in leaning towards a m/p administration, as i was riding the fence about the "socialized" health care plan. well that must have been a buzz word i had picked up. because i don't see socialization but rather only a way to provide for those who cannot afford medical. fourtunatly in the carpenters union we are covered as my rock climbing accident would have costed me thousands because of an ER visit. i couldnt afford the 12,000 dollar bill from that night and i make a decent living. i do in fact worry that such a system will be abused by illegals and the usual freeloaders.

Posted by: jp | October 3, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

How can so many Americans profess to believe that there's more "freedom" and self-determination in having an insurance company that was selected by your employer decide what medical care you may have? In Canada, the land of the dreaded socialized medicine, your doctor - the doctor you chose - gets to recommend your treatment. Isn't it obvious who is more likely to have your best interests at heart?

My American friends seem to spend a lot of time battling with their insurance companies, whenever they have a significant medical problem. Why oh why is this situation regarded as freedom of choice? As for the 46 million uninsured, they seem to have the choice of death or bankruptcy when they have the misfortune to get seriously ill.

Canada's medical system is not perfect, but after six years in the USA, the Canadian approach looks better and better.

Posted by: Canadian in Atlanta | October 3, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

$700 billion giveaway to career criminals, $800 billion thus far on Iraq. Guess who paid for that? You and I did. But if you have a serious illness, there's no money to help you...that would be socialism, right?

The people who claim they have "good coverage" sadly, are kidding themselves. If you ever get seriously ill, your insurance company will look for any and every way possible to deny coverage. It happens every single day.

Bottom line, we all already pay enough taxes: Cut off the billions in corporate welfare, multi-billion dollar "wars" and hey, presto, there's plenty of money for health coverage for every person in this country.

It's really just a matter of morals. Should billions of dollars go to self-serving criminals who profit from others misfortune; or should they go to people who can't afford cancer drugs and life-saving surgery?

At the moment, our elected "leaders" are telling us the criminals deserve our money more, it's up to us to tell them otherwise.

Posted by: Al | October 3, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm self-employed and currently pay $1,492/year in health care, dental, and vision premiums. I am 26 and single with no children. My coverage has copays and a deductable, but the plan seems reasonable. It's not one of those strictly major medical plans. I probably pay another couple hundred each year on contact lenses and dentist visits.

Under the McCain plan, I'll get the $2,500 refundable tax credit. I believe I'm already paying the full taxes on my health coverage, so the entire $2,500 should go straight into my pocket.

The Obama plan is somewhat vague but says I will get fair premiums and minimal copays. For me, it's essentially impossible for this to beat the combination of my current coverage and the McCain credit.

While I understand that insurance premiums go up with age, family size, and medical conditions, the high prices cited in some of the other comments amaze me. I did a small amount of research and found out that, in 2004, the national average premiums for individual policies ranged from $1,100 to $7,200 based on age and family size [1]. In 2007, the national average premiums for employer policies were $4,400 for singles and $12,100 for families of four [2]. Is this discrepancy explained by the increase from 2004-2007, individuals skimping on coverage, market efficiency, something else, or all of the above?

1. http://www.ahipresearch.org/pdfs/Individual_Insurance_Survey_Report8-26-2005.pdf

2. http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

Posted by: David Sickmiller | October 3, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama's plan is for sure better for 90% or more of the people.

One thing about McCain's that doesn't seem very clear is that people are talking about a $2500 or $5000 check. I don't think it is a check - it is a tax credit. So, if you currently pay little tax, what good will a tax credit be???

McCain's plan may benefit the wealthy, but will do nothing for those that are struggling to get by.

Posted by: Steven Fletcher | October 3, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Europeans have enjoyed government health insurance now for a century in some cases and do not want to give it up. Nobody even proposes to get rid of it. They look at us and wonder "what is wrong with them?"

I can tell you what is wrong with us. We somehow got this notion that we are the greatest country in the world. BS. The funny thing is that we arent even really a democracy but a republic. We are represented by elected officals and our votes only "steer" the electorate in the direction that we supposedly choose. As you can see (2000 election) this is failing fast. You just wait, Europe, there will be an exodus of americans invading your countries. OR you can think of it as we are coming back home lol. Blind nationalism will and is driving this country right into the garbage.

Posted by: gabe | October 3, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Still unsure what to make of it all after reading it, but Obama/Biden Guarantee affordable healthcare to All Americans. McCain Palin Just say healthcare should be affordable. A politicians Guarantee is good enough for me, I say Obama. Unless of course McCain decides to guarantee a unicorn for all Americans, than it's a toss up.

Posted by: NotSorryForNotWorshipingBarak | October 3, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama's is easily preferable. It offers a public plan, available to all, with some prospect of moderate premiums. I'll take it!

It needs to close the loop by ensuring enough health care providers actually accept the plan.

McCain's terrifies me. All this rhetoric about "the American People want choice". I don't want choice. I just want health insurance that works.

Posted by: jwtm | October 4, 2008 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Having worked for Doctors, State Program for Children's Special Health Care Services, and Federal Disability Determination Service I've seen Insurance from several different areas.

One of the things that people overlook in their insurance policies it the LIMIT on the dollar amount the insurance company will cover for a given condition. There is always a cut off amount on a policy. Thus, if a catistrophic illness should hit an individual or family menber, say cancer, there is a dollar limit that the companies will pay. After that "It's so long it's been good to know you." You are on your own.
This is one detail that should be spelled out.
When I took classes at MSU to become an Insurance Salesperson the first words we heard were "Remember insurance companies are not out to help people, they are here to make money". That is the bottom line.

Posted by: nance83 | October 4, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

We need to figure out a way for sick people to get medical treatment, regardless of their ability to pay. I know that Republicans don't like helping people who are less fortunate than themselves. They don't believe that it takes a village to raise a child, or care for a sick child. Why should they be their brother's keeper? That's socialism! Do you want to be a socialist? They firmly believe in individual responsibility - survival of the fittest - every dog for himself. No wonder they have a firm grip on their guns. God Bless America.

Posted by: hamishdad | October 4, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Sickmiller - you are one of the lucky healthy ones. Wait till you get cancer or some other affliction and you get denied insurance, or pay more than double the premiums. Good luck with that "my friend". When I was a young healthy 24 year old, I was denied health insurance due to an illness in my teens. That's the problem with Americans, such little empathy and ability to see beyond your own nose. It's all "me, me, me" until the same thing happens to you then its "help me!".
McCain is a crook. I'd like someone to come up with a calculation of what his premium would be, given his melamona, if he would even qualify for private insurance. But no, he doesn't even care because he's got his cushy GOVERNMENT plan.
Please people, we are one of the few, if not the only developed country without universal health care. Obama's plan is at least a step in that direction, although I agree with many posters here, that we really need to get rid of the private insurance companies. Sure, government is not perfect, but we can learn a lot from countries who have done quite well under such systems.
And for the people who say folks from other countries come to the US for treatment - I think you should re-check that. The trend is for more and more from the US who don't have insurance or have crappy insurance to head to latin or South America for major operations and cancer treatment since they would go bankrupt trying to get it here.
Obama/Biden '08 --- for a real change!

Posted by: Anna B | October 4, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed in the tone of this article, though I embrace the challenge that it calls out. Is it really that difficult to see the differences between these plans? The Obama-Biden plan is 13 pages of extremely specific and developed policy, well documented. The McCain plan is a short webpage, comprised of a bullet list largely already contained within the Obama-Biden plan, but without as much detail or context. The only substantial difference is in the main specific of the McCain plan--the tax credit. While Obama-Biden make no such provision, they do provide some detail on how to reduce premiums and provide for assistance on a sliding scale. The website for the McCain plan does not mention the fact that premiums paid by the employer will be included in the employee's gross wages, with the employee being responsible for paying taxes on that as income.

Seriously, most people who take an hour to read the Obama-Biden plan would be impressed with its detail and soundness. The 15 minutes it takes to read McCain's plan leaves one with a very vague feeling. I don't know why it is so difficult for the author of this article to tell the difference between the two plans--the difference is striking. Anyone who takes the time to read through the information would be able to understand it.

Posted by: Ian L | October 4, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry! In the previous comment I said "The only substantial difference is in the main specific of the McCain plan--the tax credit." What I meant is that is the only thing that is in the McCain plan that is not in the Obama plan. The Obama plan goes much farther, in setting up a national health plan, in setting up a marketplace for private plans to compete for customers, and in mandating that employers either offer employees coverage or pay in to the national health plan. There is also a provision to allow small business exemption from the requirement to either provide or pay in, which I am not completely sold on.

Anyway, people should read. Don't forget that Obama in the white house is not the endgame, it is just the beginning. We are going to have to be much more responsible citizens than we have been these past years. We give Bush low approval ratings, give Congress low approval ratings, we distrust our leaders, and we blame the government--but you know, we elected Bush, we elected our Congress, and democracy means that the people are the government. Let's own up, y'all, and do the right thing.

Posted by: Ian L | October 4, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

What fails to get mentioned is that many people seeking insurance on the open market are Denied coverage by the insurance co. due to often something small in their medical records. If people start losing employer based (McCain's plan) insurance the number of uninsured will climb. Not because of cost but because of ins. co's right to Deny insurance. I can not tell you how many times as an ins. agent I have had to tell people that they have been denied because their Dr. put them on some drug, for even a short period of time, that causes them to now be uninsurable. Even completely health young people are denied ins. on the open market because their Dr. prescribed an anti-depressant or a woman had one pap smear that was not normal (even if it is normal on re-test). Losing employer based health ins. is not a viable option until the laws are changed regarding the ins. co's ability to Deny coverage for just about any reason they want to. Vote NO on McCain's plan to help corporate America and make life continuously worse for the average working voter.

Posted by: 4njvotes | October 5, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

The McCain plan is DISASTROUS to millions of people who currently rely on employer sponsored health care! How can so many heartlessly discount this fact???

If you are foced to purchase individual care, your premiums will GO THROUGH THE ROOF! Becuase you'll be pooled with others in a similar age bracket and only the young and healthy will be able to afford coverage at today's rates.

Furthermore, the tax "incentive" is just as Obama says a bait-and-switch, because YOU WILL BE TAXED on any health care benefits you receive! And what happens when Congress decides, "oh, we can't afford THAT anymore???"

All the McCain plan is, is a SOP to the big insurance companies! Wanna buy Aetna a new building? Go vote GOP!

True, Obama's plan doesn't affect people who are currently getting a plan via their employer. Why should it? I don't need help with this except to make treatments fairer and for the drug companies to include more drugs in their list of covered drugs.

Hands down, OBAMA's plan wins!

Any pollster who'd like to contact me, I'd be glad to talk to!

Posted by: Ethan Q | October 8, 2008 4:43 AM | Report abuse

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