Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain's plan to destroy America's health insurance system

McCain agrees with the majority of Americans. He thinks our current health insurance system has failed. He just thinks that the problem isn't that people can;t afford health insurance. The problem, according to John McCain, is that Americans get too much health care and need to get less.

The solution, as McCain sees it, is simple. Eliminate employer-paid health insurance and throw everyone into the private individual health insurance market. "Everyone" That is, who the private insurers will accept at whatever price the insurers want to charge.

Preexisting conditions like high blood pressure, a history of cancer, or back trouble? Have you ever had surgery or medical care? Forget buying insurance. You can't afford the prices. You are on your own.

If you do try to keep your employer based health insurance and if your employer is willing to offer it, you will be taxed on the value of the insurance.

From Bob Herbert:
“The McCain plan will force millions of Americans into the weakest segment of the private insurance system — the nongroup market — where cost-sharing is high, covered services are limited and people will lose access to benefits they have now.”

The net effect of the plan, the study said, “almost certainly will be to increase family costs for medical care.”

Under the McCain plan (now the McCain-Palin plan) employees who continue to receive employer-paid health benefits would look at their pay stubs each week or each month and find that additional money had been withheld to cover the taxes on the value of their benefits.

While there might be less money in the paycheck, that would not be anything to worry about, according to Senator McCain. That’s because the government would be offering all taxpayers a refundable tax credit — $2,500 for a single worker and $5,000 per family — to be used “to help pay for your health care.”

You may think this is a good move or a bad one — but it’s a monumental change in the way health coverage would be provided to scores of millions of Americans. Why not more attention?

The whole idea of the McCain plan is to get families out of employer-paid health coverage and into the health insurance marketplace, where naked competition is supposed to take care of all ills. (We’re seeing in the Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch fiascos just how well the unfettered marketplace has been working.)

Taxing employer-paid health benefits is the first step in this transition, the equivalent of injecting poison into the system. It’s the beginning of the end.

When younger, healthier workers start seeing additional taxes taken out of their paychecks, some (perhaps many) will opt out of the employer-based plans — either to buy cheaper insurance on their own or to go without coverage.

That will leave employers with a pool of older, less healthy workers to cover. That coverage will necessarily be more expensive, which will encourage more and more employers to give up on the idea of providing coverage at all.

The upshot is that many more Americans — millions more — will find themselves on their own in the bewildering and often treacherous health insurance marketplace. As Senator McCain has said: “I believe the key to real reform is to restore control over our health care system to the patients themselves.”
Is there any "theory" regarding how this will somehow "improve" the system for providing health care? Yeah, there is. Deregulation. Let the "customer" decide what he'll buy.
This entire McCain health insurance transformation is right out of the right-wing Republicans’ ideological playbook: fewer regulations; let the market decide; and send unsophisticated consumers into the crucible alone.
Only I don't buy health care. I go to a physician and the physician tells me what I need, then we try to get it paid for somehow.

My insurance company is then given the right to refuse to pay for whatever reason they can dream up. This is long after they have been paid for the insurance they are supposed to be offering. They sold a promise to pay when services were needed, but they can only make money either by either over-charging for the insurance in the first place, or by refusing to pay for health care when it is demanded by the physicians.

The idea that I have any control over what medical care I will need is ludicrous. But that's the theory the multimillionaire husband of a very wealthy beer distributorship heiress is working on. But he has Congressional health care benefits. McCain doesn't have a clue.

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