Three Bush Health Care Proposals Examined
The Christian Science Monitor on Friday examined three "key components" of the health care proposals that President Bush likely will announce on Tuesday in his State of the Union address. The Monitor outlines the positives and negatives of expanded use of health savings accounts, increased tax breaks for individuals who purchase their own health insurance and improved availability of health care price information. Summaries appear below.
Expanded use of HSAs could "encourage medical-services shoppers to be more cost-conscious," provide "consumers more choice of providers and services" and make "insurance more affordable to some of the working uninsured" because the "premiums for catastrophic insurance are lower than traditional premiums," the Monitor reports. However, expanded use of HSAs could "discourage the purchase of preventive or other care that is deemed necessary" because of "very high deductibles," and they would "be attractive to healthier, wealthier people, draining them from the insurance risk pool and leaving only higher-risk people with traditional insurance, which would drive up the cost," according to the Monitor.
Tax breaks for individuals who purchase their own health insurance could "create incentives for more uninsured individuals to buy insurance" and help level the "playing field between businesses and individuals," according to the Monitor. However -- such tax breaks, which would "cost in the tens of millions of dollars" -- could "encourage some businesses to cut back on the health insurance they provide" and have only a small benefit for the "working poor, unless the tax advantage is given as a credit," the Monitor reports.
Improved availability of health care price information could help "consumers make more informed choices" and "improve quality of care," the Monitor reports. However, a "national standard ... by which consumers can judge the quality and cost of varying health care services" would prove "expensive to implement because of the database technology required" and could "take years to accomplish because medical culture is slow to change," according to the Monitor (Marks, Christian Science Monitor, 1/27).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.