After doing a review of all the proposed health plans out there issued by the gubernatorial candidates from both parties, I not only need a refresh in my icy Mountain Dew glass but I’m seeing some basic themes start to emerge:
1. Only the Democrats are actually putting forward proposals that will guarantee affordable coverage options to identifiable groups – in this case all children, lower-income parents, and currently uninsured workers in small businesses. The Republicans all throw a lot of ideas against the wall, obviously hoping to sound good, but not a single Republican plan will guarantee expanded coverage for anyone.
2. The Republican plans often read like talking point lists from a conservative backwards-thinking tank: “tort reform,” “mandates,” “high-deductible health plans,” and, of course, “tax credits galore.” Memo to conservatives – people want a choice of affordable, comprehensive health plans and they don’t want a smokescreen of bad ideas instead of that goal. They are sick of high deductibles and insurance companies denying care or jacking up rates because of pre-existing conditions. And, while everyone likes a tax credit, most people don’t see a tax credit as a substitute for a real insurance plan.
3. Everyone, regardless of party, likes prevention of health problems and getting people to lead healthier lifestyles. And, who could argue with that? We do spend way too much on sick care in our health system and need to move towards better managing and preventing disease. However, better prevention, while it may mean better lives, doesn’t mean a drastic reduction in health care costs. As Paul Krugman so succinctly put it, “It’s the cheeseburgers” is an argument that doesn’t wash when talking about rising health costs.
4. Finally, either because of their wealth or current and previous jobs, all the candidates appear to me to have access to comprehensive and, likely, low-cost or even free, health insurance coverage. Will whoever becomes Governor voluntarily give up the free individual health coverage that comes with the position until everyone in North Carolina can afford a health plan? It would be a great statement about values, and might make some health plans from the candidates a little more realistic.
For more in-depth discussion of each plan, here’s a list of my recent commentaries: