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Week of 4.18.08

Clinton, Obama and McCain on Health Care

The two Democratic candidates and the presumptive Republican candidate all agree that America's health care system is broken and must be fixed, but where do they differ? A comprehensive comparison of the details of the three candidates' plans has been produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Highlights of each plan are described below.

In Hillary Clinton's Plan...

Hillary Clinton
  • All individuals are required to have coverage. Income-related tax subsidies will be offered to make coverage affordable. Working families will receive a refundable tax credit to help them afford high-quality health coverage.

  • Large employers are required to provide their employees with health insurance or contribute to the cost of the system.

  • Most small employers are not required to offer or to contribute to coverage costs, but are given incentives, such as tax credits, to do so.

  • Medicaid and SCHIP are strengthened to serve America's "most vulnerable populations."

  • Businesses, employees and uninsured people have the option of buying into a new plan called the Health Choices Menu, offered under the existing Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). This plan is currently offered to Members of Congress.

  • Employers are able to buy coverage through the new Health Choices Menu on behalf of workers or early retirees.

  • Insurers that participate in federal programs such as FEHBP and Medicare are required to cover preventive services based on recommendations of the U.S. Prevention Services Task Force.

  • Insurers are prohibited from charging higher rates to people with health problems or who are at risk of developing them.

  • Costs are estimated to be $110 billion a year when fully phased in, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • $54 billion in revenue would come from limiting the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance and discontinuing tax cuts for those with incomes over $250,000.

Related Links:

Hillary Clinton on Healthcare

Kaiser Family Foundation: Side-by-Side Comparison



In Barack Obama's Plan...

Barack Obama
  • All children are required to have health insurance.

  • A new public healthcare program - the National Health Insurance Exchange - is created. It allows small businesses and individuals without access to other public programs or employer-based coverage to enroll in the new public plan or in approved private plans.

  • Plan coverage would offer benefits similar to those available through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) currently offered to Members of Congress.

  • Federal subsidies based on income levels are given to help individuals buy the new public plan or other qualified insurance.

  • Employers are required to offer "meaningful" coverage or contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the public plan.

  • Federal subsidies are given to partially reimburse employers for their health care costs if the employers guarantee that premium savings would be used to reduce employee premiums.

  • No one is turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.

  • Children up to age 25 are able to receive coverage through their parents' plan.

  • Preventive health strategies including initiatives in the workplace, schools, and communities are supported.

  • Costs are estimated to be between $50 to $65 billion a year once the plan is fully phased in, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • Financing is expected to come from savings within the health care system and from discontinuing tax cuts for those with incomes over $250,000.

Related Links:

Barack Obama on Healthcare

Kaiser Family Foundation: Side-by-Side Comparison



In John McCain's Plan...

John McCain
  • Favorable tax treatment of employer-sponsored insurance is removed.

  • There are no mandates for coverage for either individuals or children.

  • A tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families is provided to all Americans for the purchase of insurance.

  • Small businesses and self-employed persons are able to purchase insurance through any organization or association.

  • Veterans are able to use their VA benefits to pay for health care from providers.

  • Investments are made in prevention and care of chronic illnesses.

  • Competition is promoted throughout the health care system between providers and among alternative treatments.

  • Families are able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines, in a bid to increase competitiveness.

  • Any financing required for the program has not been specified.

Related Links:

John McCain on Healthcare

Kaiser Family Foundation: Side-by-Side Comparison