McCain’s health care ‘plan’
To say that John McCain has a health care “plan” is to suggest that the presumptive Republican nominee has huddled with a bunch of experts and “stakeholders” to come up with a solution that guarantees something for everybody. Instead, Mr. McCain’s approach to health care reform is similar to Ronald Reagan’s view of government: It flows from a belief that more competition, freedom and greater individual choice will lead to more innovation, greater opportunity and increased well-being.
First, Mr. McCain will substitute the dictates of government with decisions of doctors and patients by shifting the tax breaks and buying power now reserved for large corporations and insurance companies and extending it every individual. That would be accomplished by giving people the chance to take a $5,000 tax credit for health insurance costs and combine it with a tax-free health savings account.
Second, Mr. McCain would make it easier (and hopefully cheaper) to buy health care and design coverage to meet family needs by allowing businesses and nonprofits other than insurance companies to offer coverage. People would be free to purchase insurance and seek out care anywhere from anyone meeting certain accreditation standards. Providers would include retail health services such as MinuteClinic, COSTCO, banks, investment companies, hospital or health companies such as Wellpoint, Humana or online services such as Revolution Health, Google Health, etc. Government’s role would be to set some standards of transparency, solvency, etc. as new providers of health care money managers and service coordinators who can operate nationally take place.
Third, Mr. McCain would turn treating and preventing disease into enterprise to be rewarded in the marketplace from an activity that insurance companies avoid covering. The press has described Mr. McCain’s state-based guaranteed access plan as high-risk insurance pools for people who couldn’t get coverage otherwise because of a pre-existing medical condition. In fact, Mr. McCain thinks of them as marketplaces where consumers (or buying groups) with risk-adjusted dollars behind them reflecting their illnesses, are able to purchase self-designed plans, services, etc., based on price, performance, convenience. Indeed, online versions of such markets (www.carol.com) have already been established in Minneapolis.
Finally, wounded warriors would no longer have to go through a humiliating six-month assessment before receiving benefits. An account with a swipe card would guarantee them access and entry to the world’s finest rehabilitation and counseling programs or to existing VA facilities based on need, quality and price. Dollars would follow individual need, not lobbyists or bureaucrats.
Americans expect and seek choice, quality, convenience and dignity in every other important decision shaping their lives. Health care should be no different.