We at WELLalarm(TM) are keenly interested in the candidates’ platforms on health care reform. We’ve all heard the one-liners repeated by the various campaigns: “universal health coverage,” “restore control to the patients themselves,” and “your plan would force everyone to purchase health insurance!” But what lies beneath these statements, and what are the real differences between the candidates’ positions?
For Republican John McCain, the solutions to the health care crisis look very different from those of Democrat Barak Obama. According to Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, “it is the Republicans who envision a more fundamental transformation of the health insurance system.”
Here are the broader goals of each party's health care platform in a nutshell:
Primary goal of health reform
Provide nearly-universal health coverage
Purpose of health coverage
Provide front-end protection, with an emphasis on preventative care
Provide catastrophic protection on the back end
Regulation of insurance industry
How to achieve goals
Create a program that would provide private and public options for health coverage to individuals; build on existing employment-based insurance systems and public programs
Enact malpractice reforms and create a larger role for the private marketplace in health coverage, shifting tax breaks from employment-based insurers to individuals.
Regardless of who becomes our next president, it looks as if we can look forward to greater transparency from health providers and overall lower health care and drug costs – that is, if the winning candidate can enact his or her plan. While the candidates debate, we have to keep in mind the other players in health care reform: Congress, lobbyists, health-related corporations, and the economy. Still, change is in the air. We will be watching to see how the health care reform debate evolves.