A Critique of the McCain Health Insurance Plan

A press release points out a review of the likely effects of the plan proposed by John McCain to change health coverage. The results? They don’t look so good.

“Moving toward a relatively unregulated non-group market will tend to raise costs, reduce benefits, and leave people with less consumer protection,” says Sherry Glied, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and one of the paper’s authors. “The system Senator McCain envisions is one in which many more — perhaps most — insured Americans would buy health insurance and health services in a national, relatively unregulated, competitive market. Because this is a radical departure from the current system, its likely effects deserve close attention.”

Well, I guess we weren’t expecting McCain to propose something that would be socially progressive on the healthcare front, and he apparently does not disappoint on the “let them eat cake” factor.

As someone who has benefited greatly from having health care group plans available through my employers (or Diane’s employers), I can be pretty confident in saying that if I had significantly less coverage, I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d have kicked it about the time my colon perforated in 2004. That was caught quickly because I was already hospitalized and had attending physicians who were paying attention to symptoms that were not at all obvious to me.

According to Dr. Glied, the elimination of the income tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance would cause 20 million Americans to lose coverage, but the effect could be much larger especially if employers are quick to drop health benefits in response to the McCain plan, or if employers drop coverage for low wage workers. She suggests that “while initially there will be no real change in the number of people covered as a result of the McCain plan, people are likely to have far less generous policies than those they have today.”

It seems to me that it is silly to spend billions per year for critical care treatment for the un- or under-insured and act like spending any part of that for preventive medicine for the same groups would be somehow un-American. Saving lives is un-American? Saving money is un-American? It sounds to me like the McCain plan simply shifts more people to having astronomical medical costs assessed against them personally, rather than having effective health insurance, or to being indigent non-paying patients crowded into hospital emergency rooms, our health poor-houses.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

3 thoughts on “A Critique of the McCain Health Insurance Plan

  • 2008/09/21 at 9:50 am
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    I heard this criticism about Eisenhower once, but it also applies to McCain.
    For a man who has enjoyed free medical care for the overwhelming majority of his life (son of a military man, military himself, and elected federal officeholder) he is strangely opposed to allowing even affordable health care for the citizens of his country.

  • 2014/08/21 at 12:19 pm
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