Details and reactions to the health care reform plan announced by Illinois Senator Barack Obama yesterday are beginning to emerge. The complete text of the plan is here. Ezra Klein has done yeoman’s service in dissecting the plan, analyzing it, and comparing it with some of the others that are making the rounds. Multiple posts. Keep scrolling.
I have what I think is a very simple question about the plan. There’s an estimate of the costs ($50-65 billion). How many presently uninsured people would the Obama plan insure?
It’s not a universal coverage plan so the estimates on numbers of uninsured people are, largely, window dressing. The old bait and switch. To figure out the value of the plan it’s important to know how many people will be covered (divide the total cost by the number of newly covered, etc.).
If it’s few enough people, there may be cheaper solutions. A remarkably high number of those without healthcare insurance are in just five states with disproportionately high numbers of uninsured people. Reforms in Medicaid in those states alone might insure as many presently uninsured people as the Obama plan.
Sen. Obama’s rivals lost no time in responding to the senator’s proposed plan:
Immediately after Obama unveiled his plan, Democratic candidate John Edwards called it “simply inadequate.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., commended Obama for “entering” the debate, but took a shot at the coverage of his plan, saying, “We have to achieve true universal health care.”
While Clinton’s efforts to promote universal health care nearly sank her husband’s presidency in 1993, in the upcoming election, a health-care plan is emerging as a “must have” for every serious candidate. Some say for Democrats, it needs to be universal.
“This is really an issue for everybody, because health-care costs are skyrocketing,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a health-care advocacy organization.
Just for the record, I think that our healthcare system has a problem but that it isn’t an insurance problem. Healthcare insurance is expensive because healthcare is expensive. I don’t think that healthcare costs can be brought down (without causing a public health problem) either by extending healthcare insurance to everybody—both sides of the cost equation need to be addressed. We need a substantially increased supply of healthcare as well as keeping the demand for healthcare within our means.
And no universal coverage plan will survive open borders.