Health care reform and 2008 elections: New reports examine candidates' plans, public's views

Jan 15, 2008

Eighty-one percent of Americans believe that in order to help reach the goal of health insurance for all, employers should either provide health insurance to their workers or contribute to the cost of their coverage, according to survey data released today by The Commonwealth Fund. Nearly nine of 10 (88%) Democrats, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Republicans, and nearly four of five (79%) Independents would support such an employer “play or pay” requirement.

In addition, the survey, conducted between June and October of 2007, found that a wide majority of Democratic (67%), Republican (66%), and Independent (70%) voters believe that health insurance costs should be shared by individuals, employers and the government. Further, a majority of the public was strongly or somewhat in favor of requiring individuals to have health insurance coverage—with government help for those who cannot afford it.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans favor such a proposal, with 80 percent of Democrats in support, and more than half of Republicans (52%) and two-thirds of Independents (68%) in favor, according to a report on the survey findings, The Public’s Views on Health Care Reform in the 2008 Presidential Election.

The Commonwealth Fund today also released a report that describes and evaluates the Presidential candidates’ health reform plans. The analysis found that both leading Democratic and Republican candidates seek to expand health coverage through the private insurance market, but the leading Democratic candidates would require employers to continue participating in the health insurance system either by providing coverage directly or contributing to the cost of their employees’ coverage, whereas the Republicans support changes in the tax code that have the potential to significantly reduce the role of employers in the provision and financing of health insurance.

“In some ways, the Republican proposals seek bigger changes to the way most people currently obtain coverage,” said lead author Sara Collins, Assistant Vice President at The Commonwealth Fund. “Most of their plans propose a diminishing role for employers, whereas the leading Democrats favor keeping employers in the game.”

The report, Envisioning the Future: The 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Reform Proposals, found that while there are wide distinctions between the plans put forth by Republican and Democratic candidates, there are relatively narrow distinctions among the plans within each party. Some of the major differences between parties include:

-- Only Democratic candidates support universal coverage as a goal.

-- While both Republican and Democratic candidates’ plans are structured around the private market, Republican plans would rely almost exclusively on individual insurance markets without consumer protections to require insurers to extend insurance coverage to people in poor health. In contrast, Democrats’ plans would broadly pool risk to bring down costs and prevent insurers from denying insurance to Americans in poor health or who are older.

-- Democratic proposals would retain and strengthen the employer role in providing health insurance or pay for part of their employees’ coverage. Republicans are proposing to change the tax code to provide incentives for individuals to purchase insurance on the private market, which has the potential to significantly reduce employers’ role in health care coverage.

-- None of the Republican candidates would require that people have health insurance. On the Democratic side, Senator Clinton (D-NY) and former Senator Edwards (D-NC) would require that all Americans eventually have coverage. Senator Obama (D-IL) would require that children have coverage.

-- Currently, none of the Republican candidates have identified financing sources for their reform plans. Of the Democratic candidates, Senators Clinton and Obama and former Senator Edwards would roll back or let expire the tax cuts of the past few years for high income households, in addition to using employer and individual contributions to premiums. However, the lack of details makes it unclear if the amount of financing they have specified will be sufficient.

According to the study’s authors, health care reform plan design is key to ensuring that the reforms have a deep impact on the country’s ability to make significant, long-lasting improvements in access to care, equity, quality of care, efficiency, and cost control. The authors state that the most important feature of any health care reform will be its ability to provide health insurance and access to health care for all.

“For too long Americans have paid top dollar for a health care system that doesn’t give them access to the high quality health care they deserve,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “By enacting the right reforms in the right way, we can ensure that all Americans can benefit from receiving the care they need to stay healthy, cure acute conditions, and keep chronic health problems well-controlled.”

Source: Commonwealth Fund

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Malaysia: Files were deleted from flight simulator

Mar 19, 2014

Investigators are trying to restore files deleted last month from the home flight simulator of the pilot aboard the missing Malaysian plane to see if they shed any light on the disappearance, Malaysia's defense ...

Target exec's departure puts spotlight on CIOs

Mar 06, 2014

The departure of Target's chief information officer in the wake of the company's massive pre-Christmas data breach highlights the increased pressure facing executives who are charged with protecting corpora ...

Medicine goes mobile with smartphone apps, devices

Feb 19, 2014

Thanks to smartphones, email, video games and photo sharing are available at the touch of a finger. But attach a special case and that same phone can produce an electrocardiogram (EKG) from the electrical ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...