A few weeks ago both President Obama and Governor Romney sent brief statements regarding their healthcare policies to the New England Journal of Medicine. I took a look at these statements and after stripping away about a page of double talk and finger pointing from each candidate’s statement, and I found some basic principles of both candidates’ healthcare policies. So here they are side-by-side for your comparison.
|Obama||ObamaRomneyCare (Shared Policies)||Romney|
|- Those without health insurance will need to acquire insurance or pay a tax penalty- The lifetime cap on healthcare spending will be lifted on the over 100 million plans with such a cap in place- Remove tax deduction for companies that provide their employees with health insurance
- Tax breaks for small businesses so that they can provide coverage for their employees
- Eliminate insurance over payments in Medicare and Medicaid
- Young adults can stay on their parents health insurance until they are 26 years old
- Children with pre-existing conditions can not
|- People receiving health insurance through their employer will maintain their coverage- Prevent health insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions- Create a competitive environment that allows individual citizens to choose their own health insurance plan
- Eliminate the wasteful overhead expenses from health insurance companies
- Malpractice reform
|- No tax or penalty for not having health insurance- Prevent health insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions
- Provide all citizens with the tax benefits companies get on health insurance
- Eventually convert Medicare into a block grant program run at the state level
Starting with the similarities, both candidates agree upon stronger rights for health insurance customers through policies like protection against discrimination for pre-existing conditions. President Obama and Former Governor Romney also agree that health insurance prices could be lowered by creating a market that makes insurance companies compete for their customers, hopefully reducing the cost of insurance. These two policies mean that insurance companies will have to provide more extensive care at a lower cost. Insurance companies will presumably deal with this narrower profit margin by reducing their overhead expenses, another policy agreed upon by both candidates, and by providing coverage to more Americans. It is that final point of increased coverage where one of the greatest divides is seen between President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s plans for healthcare.
President Obama’s solution to increasing health insurance coverage is the controversial government mandate for health insurance. The mandate states that most Americans, with some exceptions for low income households, must purchase health insurance by 2014 or they will be taxed for being uninsured. The tax will go into effect in 2014 and start at $95 and then increase until it reaches $695 in 2016. Many have felt that this is a gross overreach of the Federal Government, so much so that the case against the tax went to the Supreme court where the tax was upheld.
Mitt Romney’s plan for reaching the millions of uninsured Americans is through incentives. If elected Mr. Romney says that he will provide individual health insurance consumers the same tax break received by large corporations providing health insurance for their employees. Critics of Mr. Romeny’s plan say that the tax deduction will not help a large proportion of the low-income uninsured Americans who are taxed at an extremely low rate or not at all. Furthermore, extension of the tax breaks does nothing to solve the problem of closing the gap between the low revenue generated from the healthcare system and ever-expanding cost of healthcare in the United States.
The differences between the policies presented by the two candidates boils down to their perspective on healthcare. Former Governer Romney feels that healthcare should be available to as many Americans as possible without infringing on their right to choose. President Obama feels that the healthcare system is at its best when each and every American takes part, an idea shared by those countries with the most successful healthcare systems. It is this fundamental difference in policy that could determine the future failure or success of the Untied States Healthcare system. So remember when you vote on November 6th, you are not just voting for a candidate, you are voting for the Health of our Nation.