Tuesday, June 22, 2004

kerry's health care plan

Just got an email with a link to Kerry's new health care ad. It's very short (15 seconds?), talks about "his plan" in very broad strokes.

Here's a link to the actual plan, an 11-page pdf file, which spells things out a bit more. Here's a FAQ-type version with pretty pictures for the wonk-challenged.

I think the main "soundbite" issues are:

1. Kerry is proposing a new kind of national catastrophic health insurance plan, called the "premium rebate pool". The plan's stats indicate that while only .4% of all claims are in excess of $50,000, they account for nearly 20% of what insurance companies pay out. As a result, removing catastrophic claims from the mix will materially lower health care costs for the insurance companies and subsequently lower insurance costs for employers and employees.

2. Kerry wants to open up the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan to all Americans. That's every individual--which could be a great option for the increasing ranks of the self-employed. Kerry touts this idea as giving every American access to the same health benefits as those given to members of Congress (as well as the executive and judicial branches), which is a very nice rhetorical device.

3. Kerry plan says that no one should pay more than 6% of their income on health insurance premiums. This will be achieved by both actively reducing the cost of health insurance and providing assistance. For example, laid off people paying premiums out of their own pocket will get a tax break.

4. Kerry wants to "take on" the drug companies. This includes creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit with no deductible. It includes legalizing drug purchases from Canada, and streamlining the approval process for generic drugs.

"I sat down with the smartest people I could find and we really worked at this plan to make it not only a comprehensive and effective way to lower people’s health care costs, but to be something that could be passed by both Republicans and Democrats.

Here’s why. It’s not a government run plan. It sticks to the fundamental American principles of free choice and free enterprise. Americans want choices, we don’t want to be railroaded into one plan. We want competition, but we also want to have cost effectiveness and quality.

Under my health care plan, Americans remain free to choose their doctor and their insurance plan. My plan creates strong economic incentives for states so they can support the plan. It provides a small business tax credit up to 50% and gives individuals new access to affordable coverage. Most importantly, it reduces the cost of health insurance premiums so businesses and individuals across America will support my plan."