More than 47 million Americans are uninsured, and the New York Times reports that even those who are insured are facing more out-of-pocket expenses for health care.
Health-related costs eat up a fifth of American household spending.
All three presidential hopefuls claim to offer the solution.
Democratic candidates Clinton and Obama would increase government regulation of health insurance to improve quality. Clinton would mandate coverage, while Obama would not, arguing that he would instead make health care affordable for the average consumer, thereby improving uptake.
Senator McCain would decrease government oversight. He says that insurers will raise the quality of their benefits and lower costs in order to appear attractive to buyers. He offers tax rebates to individuals to offset partial health care costs.
Health care scholar and author Regina Herzlinger and PNHP Senior Health Policy Fellow Don McCanne each take a look at how effective the proposals will be in increasing quality of health care and the number of insured.
VOICEOVER: More than 47 million Americans live without health coverage. With the economy in a downturn, even those who are covered are spending more on health care these days. According to The New York Times, health care eats up almost one-fifth of American household spending. All three presidential hopefuls are touting the merits of their health care plans and rejecting the others.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): My plan will cover everyone, and it will be affordable. Senator Obama’s plan does not cover everyone. It would leave, give or take, 15 million people out.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): She would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care. If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption, as they’ve done in Massachusetts.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): They urge universal coverage with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea.
Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard School of Business and Dr. Don McCanne of Physicians for a National Health Program each evaluated the health care platforms of all three candidates.
PROF. REGINA HERZLINGER, HARVARD SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: I like all three platforms that the presidential candidates are offering. All three of them offer choice to the American consumer, although Senator McCain has put that much more front and center. Choice is very important. It is very important not to be at the mercy of a single payer, whether that single payer for your health insurance is your employer or your government, because they may not give you what you want.
DR. DON MCCANNE, PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM: The three proposals of the presidential candidates all fall short of what we think needs to be done. They all build on the private health insurance model. That’s a highly defective model, which is wasting a tremendous amount of resources and failing to provide the coverage that we need. Private plans compete based on the premium they charge. What we really want is competition between health care providers, physicians and hospitals competing based on quality. And that requires that patients have freedom to choose their doctors. Private plans take away that freedom.
VOICEOVER: Both experts took a look at how close Obama and Clinton’s proposals will get to achieving universal coverage.
MCCANNE: The Clinton model mandates individuals to purchase health insurance, whereas Obama does not. He says that we need to make plans affordable so people can purchase them. Neither approach is going to get everyone insured. Obama’s approach is flawed because the private health plans are not going to be able to have enough benefits if they’re going to have affordable premiums. So people will still go without health care in his model. In Hillary Clinton’s model, the plans will not be affordable. So requiring individuals to purchase a plan they can’t pay for is unrealistic. The flaw of their proposal is that the private health insurance plan has become an obsolete model of financing health care.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.