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Presidential candidates' health plans offer divergent approaches to health system reform
Date:10/1/2008

October 2, 2008, New York, NYA new report from The Commonwealth Fund examines key differences and areas of agreement in the health system reform proposals of presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. In the report, The 2008 Presidential Candidates' Health Reform Proposals: Choices for America, the authors describe how both plans seek to expand health insurance, but Senator McCain would encourage individuals to select their own coverage through the individual insurance market while Senator Obama would strengthen employer coverage and public programs. As a result, the proposals differ in how many people would be covered, and the extent of financial protection for families against the cost of health care.

Senator Obama proposes to maintain and build on the nation's current employer and public insurance system and would require employersexcept small businessesto offer coverage to their employees or contribute to the cost. Employers currently provide insurance to more than 160 million peoplecoverage that would continue under the Obama plan. In addition, Obama would also provide tax credits to small businesses to buy coverage.

Senator McCain proposes a shift away from the current system of employer-based insurance. His proposal would count employer contributions to health insurance as taxable income to workers. He would then use these tax revenues to help finance tax credits$2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for familieswhich people can use to pay their share of their employers' plan premiums or to buy a plan on the individual market. However, this change has the potential to reduce the incentive of many employers, particularly smaller ones, to continue to provide health insurance.

The plans are rooted in differing philosophies: Senator Obama's plan focuses on sharing responsibility for health care coverage among employers, the government, and families, while Senator McCain's plan aims to place more responsib
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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