The best universal health-care plan will allow all citizens to have insurance by 2012, but it will only require children to participate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Tuesday in an interview with the editorial board of a New Hampshire newspaper.
- To make sure the proposal for universal health care is enforceable
- He says that if you force people to break the law by not having insurance, because health care is unaffordable, the plan will not work
- Expansion of funds for embryonic stem cell research
An overview of the plan:
In general, Obama’s “Plan for a Healthy America” (pdf) calls for lowering health-care costs to make sure it is affordable for everyone. Too little is spent on prevention and public health, he argues, despite the fact that the nation faces “epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases;” fewer than 4 cents out of every dollar spent on health care are directed toward funding prevention programs. Requirements of his plan include:
- Children must be insured, invoking an expansion of the Medicaid and SCHIP programs (although a bill increasing SCHIP funds by $35 billion was recently vetoed by President George W. Bush, and is awaiting an attempted override by Congress)
- Employers must make a “meaningful” contribution to the health-care coverage of their workers
- Insurance companies will have to accept ALL applicants and not be allowed to charge more for pre-existing conditions
- Hospitals will be required to collect and publicly report health-care cost and quality data
The only question is…
How does he propose to pay for a program that would provide for the 45 million Americans who are currently without insurance and save the average family $2,500 per year? Other than adopting newer, more efficient medical technology, requiring employers to help pay health-care costs, increasing pharmaceutical and insurance company competition and focusing on prevention, the information on Obama’s health-care Web page does not give a clear answer. That is, the plan details (pdf) do not contain and dollars-and-cents breakdown of how health care will be made more affordable.