Analysis Projects Impact of McCain, Obama Plans on the Uninsured
The health care proposal announced by Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) would reduce the number of uninsured U.S. residents by about 21.1 million by 2010, and the plan announced by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) would reduce the number by about 26.6 million, according to an analysis recently released by the Lewin Group, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
The McCain proposal would replace an income tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a refundable tax credit of as much as $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families who purchase coverage through their employers or the individual market. In addition, the proposal would allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines.
The report estimates that about 16 million residents would lose health insurance under the proposal because some employers would drop coverage for employees (Freking, AP/Houston Chronicle, 10/9). According to the report, the proposal would increase the number of residents with private health insurance by 26.5 million and reduce the number enrolled in public programs by 5.4 million.
John Sheils, senior vice president of the Lewin Group, said that the proposal would reduce the number of uninsured, healthy young adults by four million to five million because the amount of the tax credits would exceed the cost of premiums for residents in that group (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 10/8).
However, Sheils said, "The people who are sick are going to have a lot of trouble affording coverage, even with the credit."
About half of employees who would lose health insurance under the proposal have a chronic medical condition that would limit their ability to purchase health insurance on the individual market, Sheils said (AP/Houston Chronicle, 10/9).
The report estimated that the proposal would cost $2.05 trillion from 2010 to 2019.
The Obama proposal would establish a health insurance "exchange" that would allow residents to choose between private health plans and a public plan, with subsidies for lower-income residents. The proposal also would require health insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of their health status CQ HealthBeat, 10/8).
Under the proposal, 16 million uninsured residents would obtain health insurance through the public plan, and about 10 million would use the subsidies to obtain coverage on the private market, according to the report (AP/Houston Chronicle, 10/9).
The public plan would have lower premiums as a result of lower reimbursement rates for health care providers, the report found (CQ HealthBeat, 10/8).
Sheils said that about half of residents with chronic medical conditions would have health insurance under the proposal (AP/Houston Chronicle, 10/9).
The report estimated that the proposal would cost $1.17 trillion from 2010 to 2019.
Sheils said that Congress likely would not approve either proposal. He added, "I don't think either of them is very credible ... because neither of these plans are paid for" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.