30 April 2008

Healthcare plans by presidential candidates

John McCain has now announced his own plan, which will do nothing to solve the problem. He proposes shifting the burden of coverage from employers to individuals, but proposes nothing beyond a small tax break to make it happen; specifically, there is nothing that prevents insurers from turning away applicants for ridiculous reasons, as is the case now. The "merit" of this plan is that it is "market-based," but "market-based" healthcare is failing in the US miserably anyway - even for those who are insured.

The Hillary Clinton plan calls for mandatory coverage, using either Medicare or the private plans used by US Congress to cover all gaps. The Barack Obama plan calls for mandatory coverage for children only, and puts more weight on the government plans to fill in the gaps.

As far as I am concerned, the McCain plan will continue to leave me uninsured, but letting me get sick and die is in the Republicans' best interests anyway. At the same time, neither Democrat tackles the biggest issue in healthcare today - the inability of employers to pay - as both want to require employers to offer health insurance or pay into a national pool. I do believe that the Democrats have a plan to offer tax breaks to businesses to make this happen, but I need to look into it more.

I hate the pathetic level of discourse in healthcare in the US. National healthcare is dismissed as a socialist, inefficient idea, and it is true that some national systems, like the NHS in the UK, are poorly run. But in places like Canada, government single-payer systems, with private providers, work well, and these systems are also considered pro-business, since businesses don't have to administer healthcare plans for employees. The problem in the US is twofold: the grip on the government by the private insurers' lobby, and rampant spending on the wrong priorities - like the occupation of Iraq. Until politicians of both parties realize that, and until they figure out that the uninsured are not merely just too poor to be insured, the system will continue to be broken.