Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Presidential Candidate Health Plans

Both Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) share an interest in making healthcare accessible and affordable for all Americans under their possible administrations. In some ways, their plans are similar. Both candidates are pushing for lower drug costs, innovations in health information technology, cost and quality transparency from insurance providers, and portability of coverage.

However, the candidates diverge when it comes to whether healthcare based on a public plan or the private market will provide the most benefits to Americans, with Obama pushing for the development of a new public plan and McCain emphasizing affordable coverage through private companies.

The candidates are expected to discuss their respective health plans and other domestic policy issues during a town hall meeting debate on October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

Below are highlights of each candidate’s plan:

  • Market competition among insurance providers will lead to lower costs and higher quality
  • Provide a tax credit of $2500 per individual and $5000 per family towards the purchase of coverage through the provider of their choice
  • Expand the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to reward Americans for saving towards additional medical expenses
  • Create Guaranteed Access Plans (GAP) - A non-profit organization would be established to contract low-cost plans with state and private insurers
    - Those who were previously denied coverage would be able to form into large pools eligible to purchase plans through GAP under a group rate
    - Available to all Americans regardless of pre-existing condition or other inability to qualify - Intended to help low-income Americans and those who lack employer benefits
  • Create a national program to assist seniors with managing their healthcare
    - Modeled after state programs, seniors would receive a monthly stipend towards home care and would also have access to counselors who can help them manage their medical finances


  • Expand Medicare and SCHIP and establish a new public program to increase access to health coverage
    - The plan would be modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB) currently used by members of Congress and federal employees
    - Available to small businesses, the self-employed, those without employer benefits, as well as those who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP
  • Mandate health coverage for every child either under the national plan or a parent’s plan - Children would be eligible for coverage under a parent’s plan until the age of 25
  • Require all employers, except small businesses, to contribute either to their employees’ individual health plans or directly to the national plan
  • Provide a tax credit to small businesses of up to 50 percent of all premiums paid on behalf of their employees
  • Establish the National Health Insurance Exchange (NHIE) to monitor state and private insurance providers
    - Hold state and private providers accountable to the same price and quality standards as the national plan
    - Ensure consumer fairness by requiring providers to be transparent with price and quality data and to justify above-average premium increases
    - Ensure that private companies direct premiums towards patient care, not administrative costs and profit

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