Sunday, July 27, 2008

McCain Wants to End Tax Deduction for Employer Provided Health Care

As this AlterNet article of July 25, 2008, makes clear, John McCain's health care plan calls for ending the tax deduction that employers get for providing health insurance to their employees. This system, which is the main pillar of America's increasingly dysfunctional health care system, delivers health insurance to about 90% of American workers. McCain wants to end this system and replace it with a system whereby Americans negotiate with health insurance companies on their own.

This is a quote from the AlterNet article linked to above:

His plan is designed -- with sugar and sticks -- to push you to negotiate on your own with the friendly insurance companies. He'll give you a tax credit -- $2,500 for an individual; $5,000 for a family -- to help you pay the price. And he'll revoke the tax exemption for any health benefits your employer provides. Under his plan, those benefits will be taxed as income. McCain says this will reduce our health care expenditures. He might be right. His preferred option -- health saving accounts -- generally features low monthly payments and very high deductibles. People tend to insure themselves against catastrophe and take a chance on routine health care.

On average, this will work pretty well if you are young and healthy and lucky. But if you are sick, if you have suffered serious illnesses in the past, if you have what insurers call a "pre-existing condition," or if you are older and at higher risk, you're in trouble. For many, insurance won't be available at any price. That's why Elizabeth Edwards noted that neither she nor McCain would be eligible for such coverage since both have struggled with cancer. Many more will find adequate coverage unaffordable. Others will have to choose between paying to see a doctor or buying the weekly groceries. You'll be more "sensitive to price," but you might not think that a good thing.

The article's author, Robert Borosage, who is co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, goes on to note that while John McCain extols the virtues of private medical insurance plans, he personally has spent his entire life on a government paid health insurance system. When he was growing up, his father got health coverage for his family because he was in the Navy. Then, after high school graduation, McCain went to Annapolis where he received health care from the government. A year after he left the military, he was elected to Congress and got the best coverage offered to Americans. So, while he wants to end the health care system that most American workers use, he will continue to receive health care from the U.S. Government.

The next time that someone tells you they are voting for McCain, ask them if they have employer provided health insurance. If they say "yes", ask them how they feel about McCain doing away with such coverage. See how that makes them feel.

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