Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Presidential Candidates Plans: Change... a long time coming

On 2008 Presidential Candidate, Barrack Obama's website, http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/
He lays out a health care plan that "bring real change.' But I am not so sure it solves the problem of uninsured 20-somethings...

Barack Obama's Plan
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All
Obama's Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress. The Obama plan will have the following features:
Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.
Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.
Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.
Simplified paperwork and reined in health costs.
Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.
Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.
Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
Employer Contribution: Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small employers that meet certain revenue thresholds will be exempt.
Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.
Expansion Of Medicaid and SCHIP: Obama will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.
Flexibility for State Plans: Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the lead in health care reform. The Obama plan builds on these efforts and does not replace what states are doing. States can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan.

Obama's plan does attempt to change the current crisis Americans face with health care today. He does propose offering subsidies for those in financial crisis. But he does not really specify what "financial crisis" means. I know there were many times I did not qualify for scholarships or aid for college because I was "not poor enough." (kind of like the Welfare System in the U.S.: the working poor.) Obama also proposes access for all and portability. So everyone can sign up, no matter their previous life (in a word) and your coverage moves with you and your job (finally). He also wants to expand medicaid. These last options may provide some assistance for uninsured 20-somethings, but still are a bit unspecific. Plus, how will this fly for Washington? Could the insurance companies handle it? What about drug companies and more importantly, doctors? doctors had huge issues with Medicare and Medicaid... what are they going to say about this?

Still, for uninsured 20-somethings, there seems to be some options, but I am not sure it is enough to convince a 20-something who has to pay $700/mo for rent, credit card bills, phone bills, LOANS from college, electric, car payments, etc... for health insurance. Especially when they have just graduated from college. A $40,000 + principal debt can really make the hole look deep.


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