Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Which Democrat has the better health insurance plan?

By Libby

This is an important debate where I could certainly use some help. I find myself buffeted between the spin of the two camps to the point of vertigo. Mike Lux at Open Left scared me with this post about Obama's health care advisor.
Cooper, a leader of conservative Dems on the health care issue, instead of working with us, came out early and said universality was unimportant, and came out with a bill that did almost nothing in terms of covering the uninsured. He quickly became the leading spokesman on the Dem side for the insurance industry position, and undercut us at every possible opportunity, basically ending any hopes we had for a unified Democratic Party position. I was never so delighted to see a Democrat lose as when he went down in the 1994 GOP tide.

Obama truly doesn't care about comprehensive health care reform or universal coverage, and that the health care package you would propose if President would be a conservative, pro-insurance industry bill.
Ron Chusid counters with a long post that should also be read in full but he quelled my anxiety somewhat with these grafs.
To be precise on this, Obama’s plan might not be called universal as people have the option not to participate. However if Obama’s plan is not considered universal, then Clinton’s plan could not be called universal either as not everybody obeys government mandates. Robert Reich has argued that Obama’s plan would actually cover more people:

She says his would insure fewer people than hers. I’ve compared the two plans in detail. Both of them are big advances over what we have now. But in my view Obama’s would insure more people, not fewer, than HRC’s. That’s because Obama’s puts more money up front and contains sufficient subsidies to insure everyone who’s likely to need help – including all children and young adults up to 25 years old. Hers requires that everyone insure themselves. Yet we know from experience with mandated auto insurance – and we’re learning from what’s happening in Massachusetts where health insurance is now being mandated – that mandates still leave out a lot of people at the lower end who can’t afford to insure themselves even when they’re required to do so. HRC doesn’t indicate how she’d enforce her mandate, and I can’t find enough money in HRC’s plan to help all those who won’t be able to afford to buy it. I’m also impressed by the up-front investments in information technology in O’s plan, and the reinsurance mechanism for coping with the costs of catastrophic illness. HRC is far less specific on both counts. In short: They’re both advances, but O’s is the better of the two. HRC has no grounds for alleging that O’s would leave out 15 million people.
Health insurance is a major issue for me. Since I left the law firm to help out my family, I'm now a single payer, self-insured. The insurance company raised my rate to $750 a month this year, a $160 jump. I need more affordable health insurance, as do the millions who are already priced out. Frankly, I don't have much hope that either candidate will buck the insurance industry enough to really help us but this is one place where the difference in policy really matters to me.

So maybe the policy wonks who read us can help me out here. Is Reich right? Is Obama's plan better or is Bob's opinion colored by the bad blood between himself and the Clintons?

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