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Difference Between Candidates' Health Care Plans

Health Care: The Low Down on the Candidates' Differences

Rounding into the final stretch of the campaign, what has been a long year plus of promises on both sides now stand to become reality very soon — and for new plans like Obama's health-care proposal, business owners are thinking long and hard about what it will really mean for their bottom line. One small business owner is already considering not adding any workers to his four pet-supply stores in anticipation of the contribution he'll have to make.


Though there aren't hard numbers yet, economists believe Obama's plan might make large and medium companies pay as much as 6 percent of their payrolls toward the health-care plan. It's a number that has the small-business owner nervous — he currently has 90 employees, 29 of them full-time workers who are offered health benefits.“To all of a sudden whack 6 to 7 percent of payroll costs, forget it. If they do that, prices go up and employment goes down because nobody can absorb that.” Much of the concern comes from the fact that Obama's campaign has decided not to decide on details like penalties and cost to business.

While those details are vague, both candidates have released specifics. To see the specific differences between the two plans, read more.

Barack Obama:

  • Big Plan: Obama wants universal coverage accomplished by establishing a new federal health plan that provides benefits like those offered to federal employees. Premiums would be subsidized for low earners.
  • Access: He would prohibit insurance companies from withholding coverage to people with health problems or charging them higher rates.
  • Medicial Costs: He plans to control costs in part with a $50 billion investment in health information technology over five years.
  • How to Pay For It: “To help pay for all this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don’t make a meaningful contribution today to the health-care coverage of their employees to do so by supporting this new plan. And we’ll also allow the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.”

John McCain:

  • Big Plan: McCain wants to give all consumers the same advantages, whether insurance comes through employers or not. He'll give $5,000 in tax breaks per family, and allow insurance to be purchased over state lines.
  • Access: For hard-to-insure, he's offering federal assistance for states to create high-risk pools that would contract with insurers cover those who've been rejected.
  • Medical Costs: He plans to control costs by limiting malpractice damages, investing in prevention and chronic-disease management, and encouraging the faster introduction of generic drugs.
  • How to Pay For It: “I’m certainly not interested in raising people’s taxes, as many of the Democrats are interested in doing. I’m absolutely opposed to that.”

For detailed side-by-side comparisons on every issue, and more specifics on health care, the NYT has a great break down.

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