As much as I'd like I try to avoid obvious political takes while writing this blog. The election is very close upon us and the differences between the two major party candidates is fairly great (for better or worse). With the economy taking over most Americans' thoughts recently, my wife and I are a little worried about our financial future given corporate cut-backs and layoffs, as well as a new baby coming in a few months. If one of us lost our jobs, the biggest hit would come from our potential loss in health care benefits.
The two plans posed by the presidential candidates is very different, and both have potential problems associated with the implementation of such plans. Barack Obama's plan calls for only subtle changes in the current health care system, especially for those who enjoy their current benefit program. It will work with employers and insurance companies to lower premiums, saving Americans up to $2,500 a year. For those who would like a different option or have no current benefits, an Obama administration will "establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage." (See the plan here: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/)
This plan will cost money, of course, a major sticking point made by Obama's opponent John McCain. But imagine the money that could be brought into government coffers if the administration stopped one of our wars and collected the proper taxes from corporations while closing tax loopholes. All of which is part of Obama's plan, as well as only raising taxes on those earning over $250K a year. Some may call this socialist, like it's a terrible thing, but where "health care for all" is implemented around the world, it seems to work. A healthy electorate is one that has money to earn and spend to help keep our economy growing.
The McCain plain is much different. He announced this week plans this week for reductions in Medicare and Medicaid, two important social programs that provide health care to the elderly, poor and handicapped (my father falling into at least one of those categories). Independent analysts estimate this idea could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs. (Read about it here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122315505846605217.html)
But the hallmark of McCain's health care plan is to give individuals $2,500 and families $5,000 in tax credit toward insurance premiums. The fine print, which Obama enjoys reading for us to dig at McCain's plan, is that McCain will tax your health benefits through your employer. Just like paying for social security and other taxes, you will see a new line on your pay stub taking money out for health care. So you will, in essence, be taxed for the tax credit you'd receive for health care. The worry with this plan is if you lose your job and health care benefits. Apparently the average health care costs for a family per year is over $12,000. That means you have to make up the difference after spending your $5K.
Both plans have obvious faults and consequences, and I've hardly explained them in detail. It's just something we all need to consider when thinking about the next four-plus years. This is only one piece of the puzzle we need to put together when choosing the right candidate to lead our country. I only hope we all dig a little deeper and find out how these issues will really effect our lives and those of our fellow citizens. Some of us have it pretty good right now, but a lot has happened in the last few weeks that should give us all pause and we need to pay attention.
Please excuse this rant; it's not something I will get into much here but having a child has made me think about an issue like this a little more. My name is Daddy In Waiting and I approve this message.