Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Senator Clinton's UHC Plan

There was an article in the newspaper today about Senator Clinton's plan for universal health care, or universal health insurance. It struck me that the outline of the plan was similar to the plan that Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed for California. As I understand it, the Clinton plan has the following elements:
  1. Persons who are satisfied with their present health insurance will be allowed to keep it. They will not be required to enroll in the new plan.
  2. Everyone, including healthy young people, will be required to buy health insurance. Adding these health people to the existing insurance pools will make it possible for insurance companies to reduce their premiums to make health insurance more affordable.
  3. A government-sponsored plan will be set up for people who don't like the existing choices of health insurance or who are unable to afford health insurance, either through poverty or through a preexisting medical condition.
  4. Large companies that do not provide subsidized health insurance for their employees will be required to pay a fee or tax, whatever you call it.

I have mixed feelings about this plan. Of course, I recognize that the devil is in the details. Perhaps if I knew all the details, I would like it, or hate it. Now I have mixed feelings.

First, the plan keeps in place the private insurers. Insurance companies, with their bureaucracies dedicated to maximizing the profit for their companies by denying benefits are a major cause of the rapid increase in medical costs. Clinton does not do anything to rein in the insurance industry. Instead, she hopes to keep the industry quiet and not run "Harry and Louise" ads against it.

Second, I would like to know more about the government-sponsored insurance for those who can't or won't buy private insurance. Perhaps this feature can grow and eventually become a single-payer insurer. Perhaps it will wither because insurance companies will offer loss-leader policies to healthy individuals who are considering choosing the government plan. This is a feature that would cause me to support the plan if I believed that it would grow into a single-payer. If I believed it would wither, I would oppose the plan.

Third, to her credit, Senator Clinton is trying to craft a plan that has some chance of enactment at present - or after George Bush leaves office, for he will certainly veto any form of universal health insurance that has a government component.

At any rate, I'll have to wait for more details before I decide whether to support or oppose it. (Not that my position will have any effect)

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