Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Obama's Health Plan: The Right Solution

Barack Obama has suffered a lot of criticism recently for failing to offer much substance. Well, at least in health care, that criticism is no longer valid. The details of Obama's health plan are now out:
Under Obama's proposal, everyone would be able to obtain health insurance, and the Illinois senator would create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage. In essence, Obama's plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money into the system to pay for the expanded coverage.

Those who can't afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan that would be offered would be similar to the one covering members of Congress.

I think he's gotten this one exactly right. There is concern about too many people being uninsured. But the idea of having government agencies run aspects of the health care system, like with the John Edwards plan, will never fly. Obama found the right balance, in my view, both in terms of politics and policy. It's what I thought he should have done and I'm glad he did it.

ADDED: Based on other explanations I've seen, I'm going to have to think about whether I've characterized the plan accurately. More later.

MORE: Having read Ezra Klein's explanations (here, here and here), I think I had it just about right, although of course it's a complicated plan with a lot of nuances. Overall, it seems like good politics and not bad policy.

It doesn't fix a lot of my biggest complaints about health care, though. For example, why can insurance companies negotiate with doctors to get lower prices than would an uninsured consumer? I've always wanted to try going with no insurance except for serious illness or injury, but the higher prices I would have to pay for basic care mean that it doesn't make sense.

No comments: