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Difference Between Candidates' Health Care Plans

Health Care: The Low Down on the Candidates' Differences

Rounding into the final stretch of the campaign, what has been a long year plus of promises on both sides now stand to become reality very soon — and for new plans like Obama's health-care proposal, business owners are thinking long and hard about what it will really mean for their bottom line. One small business owner is already considering not adding any workers to his four pet-supply stores in anticipation of the contribution he'll have to make.

Though there aren't hard numbers yet, economists believe Obama's plan might make large and medium companies pay as much as 6 percent of their payrolls toward the health-care plan. It's a number that has the small-business owner nervous — he currently has 90 employees, 29 of them full-time workers who are offered health benefits.“To all of a sudden whack 6 to 7 percent of payroll costs, forget it. If they do that, prices go up and employment goes down because nobody can absorb that.” Much of the concern comes from the fact that Obama's campaign has decided not to decide on details like penalties and cost to business.

While those details are vague, both candidates have released specifics. To see the specific differences between the two plans,


Barack Obama:

  • Big Plan: Obama wants universal coverage accomplished by establishing a new federal health plan that provides benefits like those offered to federal employees. Premiums would be subsidized for low earners.
  • Access: He would prohibit insurance companies from withholding coverage to people with health problems or charging them higher rates.
  • Medicial Costs: He plans to control costs in part with a $50 billion investment in health information technology over five years.
  • How to Pay For It: “To help pay for all this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don’t make a meaningful contribution today to the health-care coverage of their employees to do so by supporting this new plan. And we’ll also allow the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.”

John McCain:

  • Big Plan: McCain wants to give all consumers the same advantages, whether insurance comes through employers or not. He'll give $5,000 in tax breaks per family, and allow insurance to be purchased over state lines.
  • Access: For hard-to-insure, he's offering federal assistance for states to create high-risk pools that would contract with insurers cover those who've been rejected.
  • Medical Costs: He plans to control costs by limiting malpractice damages, investing in prevention and chronic-disease management, and encouraging the faster introduction of generic drugs.
  • How to Pay For It: “I’m certainly not interested in raising people’s taxes, as many of the Democrats are interested in doing. I’m absolutely opposed to that.”

For detailed side-by-side comparisons on every issue, and more specifics on health care, the NYT has a great break down.


Join The Conversation
ash_marisa ash_marisa 8 years
Thats funny CatGirl...I work in healthcare, which is why I am absolutely voting for Obama, as are the great majority of my colleagues (despite being in a "red" state). Both of the large medical & nursing associations are endorsing Obama, so I wonder what aspect of healthcare you work in.
foxie foxie 8 years
"There already ARE limits on malpractice suits" That's true. In Georgia I think it's $250,000, which is why I used that example.
Mykie7 Mykie7 8 years
There already ARE limits on malpractice suits, and are any of you aware how HARD it is to PROVE malpractice? I can speak on this first hand. So to me, changing the limits will make no difference. It's changing the litigation and policy for who CAN file a malpractice suit that needs to be looked at.
foxie foxie 8 years
Pop- you're right. It's pretty empty here.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
Why are you against universal healthcare? And I don't see where either candidate is proposing universal healthcare.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I work in health care, and absolutely am against a universal plan. One of many reasons why I am voting McCain.
foxie foxie 8 years
Em- I believe it's as simple as instituting a cap on the amount for which you can sue a hospital for malpractice. For instance, no $2,000,000 lawsuits for wrongful death claims.
em1282 em1282 8 years
I would like more specifics from Obama regarding medical costs, and I'm a bit confused over how McCain would limit malpractice damages...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I just think it's funny because a lot of times the comments in the threads are like: "Why are we talking about this crap? We should be talking about policy!" But the threads that are actually about policy, like this one, are usually pretty unpopular numbers-wise :)
foxie foxie 8 years
"He wants to cut Medicare benefits to the elderly to pay for his plan!" Actually he wants to find savings within Medicare and Medicaid without cutting benefits. Spin, spin, spin. "How to Pay For It: “I’m certainly not interested in raising people’s taxes, as many of the Democrats are interested in doing. I’m absolutely opposed to that.” He wants to alleviate costs with the aforementioned and by also requiring workers to pay income taxes on health benefits. Citizen, why wouldn't you put down an ACTUAL answer instead of one that makes him look like he's dodged the question the entire way? For shame.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
"How to Pay For It: “I’m certainly not interested in raising people’s taxes, as many of the Democrats are interested in doing. I’m absolutely opposed to that.” He wants to cut Medicare benefits to the elderly to pay for his plan!
Roarman Roarman 8 years
McCain's plan has many flaws in it. The $5,000 tax credit doesn't even come close to what it costs to insure a family of four. Those who would benefit from McCain's plan are young, single, healthy men who do not go to the doctor often. And if I am understanding his proposal correctly, he wants to do away with the pre tax payment of premium benefits and make those taxable, how is that a benefit? And their are a slew of problems with allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. One of which is all of the insurance companies would move to the state where there is the lowest requirement for coverage benefits. As for small businesses, that is all I have ever worked for. And I mean less than 10 employees. And all of them have always contributed to at least 80% of a family plan. 100% for a single plan. And the premiums for health insurance as they stand right now increase by at least 13% every year. Where I work now the owners would not dream of dropping insurance for their employees, they factor it in as a cost of doing businees, along with buying supplies, internet service etc.
Shadowdamage Shadowdamage 8 years
I think they need to be very careful (either candidate) on how they handle small companies...I work for one, and I know my boss has to manage things quite carefully as-is, the last few years haven't made things easier and either candidate needs to be sensitive to the small businessman. Personally, neither my boss, myself, or any of our small team of coworkers ever want to see the corporate world again...we love our independence, but we are such a tight team that whatever happens, we will make it work. I just don't want to see small entreprenurial ventures suffer while the "big guys" rise and fall and pay their CEO's (failed or not) more than we generate in a year.
foxie foxie 8 years
" And I don't think it's necessarily right to limit malpractice damages " I don't think it's right that someone can put an astronomical price tag on "emotional suffering" and then let the rest of us foot the bill of high insurance and medical costs. Limiting damages means more affordable terms for the rest of us. With caps like $250,000, I find it hard to believe that many malpractice cases could actually rationalize suing for even more money.
dreamsugar dreamsugar 8 years
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Oh pop, you really know how to keep us on track with the important issues.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Policy schmolicy. What outfit did Palin have on today?!
girlA girlA 8 years
I'm not too excited about universal health care, however, if it's something that is offered to the uninsured as another alternative to self-employment insurance, I think it's a good idea. I each candidate has good things to offer, but McCain's $5,000 doesn't sound like a good idea. And I don't think it's necessarily right to limit malpractice damages--let juries decide that--that's the cornerstone of our judicial system...
dreamsugar dreamsugar 8 years
[How to Pay For It: “I’m certainly not interested in raising people’s taxes, as many of the Democrats are interested in doing. I’m absolutely opposed to that.”] Is this even an answer???
mswender mswender 8 years
I just don't see how McCain's plan can actually get people health insurance?
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