Looks like McCain’s health care plan aims to reduce access to employer-based coverage that protects most of us in the U.S. without giving us anything to fall back on. Bob Herbert:
A study coming out Tuesday from scholars at Columbia, Harvard, Purdue and Michigan projects that 20 million Americans who have employment-based health insurance would lose it under the McCain plan…
For starters, the McCain health plan would treat employer-paid health benefits as income that employees would have to pay taxes on.
According to the study: “The McCain plan will force millions of Americans into the weakest segment of the private insurance system — the nongroup market — where cost-sharing is high, covered services are limited and people will lose access to benefits they have now.”
If that isn’t nasty enough,
The whole idea of the McCain plan is to get families out of employer-paid health coverage and into the health insurance marketplace, where naked competition is supposed to take care of all ills. (We’re seeing in the Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch fiascos just how well the unfettered marketplace has been working.)
Taxing employer-paid health benefits is the first step in this transition, the equivalent of injecting poison into the system. It’s the beginning of the end.
When younger, healthier workers start seeing additional taxes taken out of their paychecks, some (perhaps many) will opt out of the employer-based plans — either to buy cheaper insurance on their own or to go without coverage.
That will leave employers with a pool of older, less healthy workers to cover. That coverage will necessarily be more expensive, which will encourage more and more employers to give up on the idea of providing coverage at all.
The upshot is that many more Americans — millions more — will find themselves on their own in the bewildering and often treacherous health insurance marketplace. As Senator McCain has said: “I believe the key to real reform is to restore control over our health care system to the patients themselves.”
By forcing them, and their employers, to opt out of coverage altogether.
The study itself reads like a horror show, and I can’t help but wonder where that would leave someone like me. I’m a low-wage hourly worker who relies heavily on employer-provided benefits. In the last couple of years I’ve been diagnosed with ulcers and carpal tunnel syndrome, had to have four wisdom teeth pulled on an emergency basis, and I practically breed whatever virus it is that causes low-grade fevers and general crappiness, the kinds of things you can’t cure with a little rest and a Hot Toddy. The differences in the quality of care I’ve received as an insured person and an uninsured person are enormous. I can’t fathom what it would do to my family to lose these kinds of benefits and be forced to pay out of pocket on the kind of wages we make.
My question, like Herbert’s, is why the hell we aren’t paying more attention? And where is my Glorious People’s Revolutionary Health Clinic?
Ezra has more. And it’s more staggering than what I’ve already excerpted.
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