Proposed Solutions on Health Care

Health care ranks second only to the economy among the issues that voters say will be most important in their choice for president, according to The Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll. Nearly 46 million Americans were uninsured last year. Almost one-third of Americans say someone in their family has had trouble paying medical bills in the past year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Here is a look at how Barack Obama and John McCain propose to help cure the health-care system.

[Photo of Barack Obama]

Barack Obama

Democrat

[Photo of John McCain]

John McCain

Republican

Expanding Access to Coverage

  • Would require all children, but not adults, to have health insurance.
  • Would require employers to offer health benefits or to pay into a national insurance fund.
  • Would expand Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • 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 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 allow insurance carriers to sell across state lines to create a more competitive market, preempting state insurance regulations of rates and benefits.
  • Would promote the use of health savings accounts that allow people to set aside money for medical expenses tax-free.

Coverage for People With Existing Illnesses

  • Would require “guaranteed issue,” prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people who are sick.
  • 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.

Controlling Costs

  • Would aim to improve prevention and management of chronic diseases.
  • Would devote $50 million to promote health information technology such as electronic medical records.
  • Would promote the use of generic drugs, instead of more expensive brand-name ones.
  • Would reduce payments to private Medicare health plans.
  • Would aim to improve prevention and management of chronic diseases.
  • Would restrict malpractice suits against doctors and health insurers.
  • Would promote generic drugs, require pharmaceutical companies to disclose drug pricing, and allow reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from countries where they are sold at lower prices.
  • Would gradually reduce payments to private Medicare health plans.

Improving Quality

  • Would support research into medical effectiveness and promotion of the best practices.
  • Would foster more reporting of quality and price data.
  • Would address health disparities for different racial and ethnic groups.
  • Would support research into medical effectiveness and promotion of the best practices.
  • Would foster more reporting of quality and price data.
  • Would promote the use of health information technology and telemedicine.

Overall Price Tag

  • Says his plan would cost $50 billion to $65 billion a year when all elements are phased in. Money would come from ending tax cuts for people with incomes exceeding $250,000.
  • Says his plan would be budget-neutral over 10 years.

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