NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 17, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has unveiled an ambitious health care plan that is comprehensive in scope, sparse in detail and limited in its cost estimates.  Yet, he insists that the proposal would save the typical American family $2,500 in medical costs.  These savings are implausible, though, and the costs are unknown, says the Heritage Foundation.

Obama's proposals are organized around three objectives: offering affordable, comprehensive and portable coverage; containing spiraling health care costs and improving quality of care; and promoting and strengthening prevention and public health.  These key goals would appeal to most Americans, but the coercive means required to accomplish these goals will be far less attractive, says Heritage. 

They include:

  • Federal domination and control of health insurance.
  • An employer mandate.
  • A mandate on parents to cover their children.
  • A comprehensive standardized benefits structure.
  • Unspecified new taxpayer subsidies to business to cover their high-end health care costs.
  • Expanded federal involvement in the delivery of care by doctors and other medical professionals.

Moreover, Obama's plan would give the federal government even more control of health care dollars and decisions -- a radical departure from the decentralized decision-making system that characterizes employer-based insurance and state-based insurance regulation, says Heritage.

Instead of using the federal government to change the health care system from the top down, policymakers should transfer direct control of health care dollars back to individuals and families.  Such a system of personal ownership would allow Americans to exercise real personal choice of health plans and benefits in choosing those plans that best meet their needs and would make plans and providers compete directly for their dollars by providing value to consumers and patients, explains Heritage. 

Further, personal ownership of health care would help to control costs and guarantee better quality, eliminating the need to depend on the government or third-party payers, concludes Heritage.

Source: Robert E. Moffit and Nina Owcharenko, "The Obama Health Care Plan: More Power to Washington," Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder, No. 2197, October 15, 2008.


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