Even among those who have decided for voted for the candidate of their choice, health care ranks among the top issues along with the economy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll.
Whether you believe health care is a right or a privilege – there are differences in the way each party believes health care should be delivered.
Things To Consider: Americans Going Without Coverage
The most recent estimate is that 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Many adults with chronic illness are forgoing doctors’ visits or relying on emergency rooms for their medical care after their condition has worsened.
Among them, an estimated 16 million who have a chronic condition and no insurance for medical care. Among millions of Americans with chronic disease and pre-existing conditions, employer-based plans may be out of reach.
Here are some of the differences as outlined in the Washington Post:
- Would require all children, but not adults, to have health insurance, would expand Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program
- Would require employers to offer health benefits or to pay into a national insurance fund
- Would create a national health insurance exchange through which individuals and small companies could buy coverage from approved private insurance plans or a new government insurance option
- Would provide people who are currently uninsured an unspecified tax credit to help buy insurance
- Would require "guaranteed issue," prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people who are sick
- Would address health disparities for different racial and ethnic groups
- Obama’s plan – a cost $50 billion to $65 billion a year would be paid for by ending tax cuts for people with incomes exceeding $250,000
- Would provide refundable tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to encourage them to get insurance or keep their current coverage
- Would eliminate federal tax exclusion for workers on health benefits they get through their jobs
- Would promote the use of health savings accounts that allow people to set aside money for medical expenses tax-free
- Would create a "guaranteed access plan" to give federal subsidies to a new generation of high-risk pools to cover people rejected by insurance companies
- Would restrict malpractice suits against doctors and health insurers
- Would gradually reduce payments to private Medicare health plans.
- McCain says his plan would be budget neutral over 10 years
Universal Coverage- The Non-Candidate
Elizabeth Edwards, appearing in a video on ABC News says everybody has to be covered, and neither party mandates universal coverage.
“You can’t just say I’m going to make it really cheap and everybody will buy it. You’ve got a chicken and an egg problem there. It gets cheaper when everybody buys it, and but it doesn’t get cheaper until everybody buys it,” she says.
We need one national pool to accomplish that, according to Edwards, who points out that only when insurers have the largest possible group covered do they have the incentive to keep prices down.
As far as being budget neutral, as the Republicans have said, Edwards point out that that has changed.
“The problem was not only that those wages, and health care benefits are taxable as income, they are also subject to payroll taxes. Now the Republicans are saying you don’t have to pay payroll taxes on it. The result is $1.3 trillion more over ten years by cutting Medicare and Medicaid, health care, farming and ethanol subsidies,” Edwards told a college crowd near her North Carolina home.
Edwards, who is suffering from incurable breast cancer that has gone into her bone, says her condition has not worsened. She has made health care her life’s work since her diagnosis and plans to campaign against the health care policies of John McCain until the election.
Her husband, John, once a shining star of the Democratic party who ran for president, has attended no public events since acknowledging his affair with a woman who worked with his campaign. #