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As the race for the most powerful seat in the White House draws near, the nominations for the Presidential candidate of the U.S. Democratic Party have also gained momentum. With two of the Democrats’ strongest bets competing to ultimately become the flag bearer of the party, an initial wave of national campaign has already been witnessed by the Americans. Obama and Clinton have constantly wooed the American voting population while backing themselves with their platforms and plans for addressing the crucial issues faced by the country. One of the major national concerns highlighted in both candidates’ plans for action is the improvement of the U.S. health care system. Now, universal health care is being raised by both sides alongside with addressing the nation’s rising health care costs.
In 2006, the cost of U.S. health care has already increased by 6.7% with total expenses amounting to more than $2.1 trillion which is equivalent to $7,000 per person in the country (Kuttner, 2008). At present, the cost of health care is already worth 16% of the U.S. gross domestic product and is still bound to increase up to 20% until 2016. Such overwhelming increase in medical care costs is caused by several factors including the abundance of new medical technologies, commercialization within the health industry, poor health habits of the people, and the heavy burden of tax on acquiring health insurances. However, despite the devastatingly high medical costs, there is no guarantee that quality health care is being provided as it has been found that around one fifth and one third of such medical expenses do not actually deliver in making people’s health any better. Hence, the current health care system of the country which takes more from the people’s pockets while leaving out more suffering in health problems without aid is aimed to be resolved by both Democrat presidential candidate-hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in case either of them wins the U.S. presidency. Both have laid out their proposals for improving the country’s health care condition, and the thrust of their health care solutions revolve around providing health insurance for the American population and strategic planning for reducing medical care expenditures.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama intends to provide universal health insurance by making way for quality, affordable and portable coverage for all the Americans. Obama’s national health plan is to ensure insurance eligibility for every applicant regardless of previous medical history. Such new health plan also include a wide range of benefits such as health packages like those received by federal employees; low cost premiums, co-pays and deductibles; and subsidies for unqualified Medicaid or State Children’s Health Insurance Program applicants in acquiring the new public plan or a private health care insurance. Along with these, the new health plan for the public shall be accessed and availed easily with portability, as changing jobs would no longer affect insurance coverage; and efficiency, as the companies providing insurances shall be evaluated based on health information technology and administration standards. Obama also aims to establish the National Health Insurance Exchange which shall be of assistance to those who plan to avail of private health insurance plans while ensuring the equality, affordability, and accessibility of the coverage of such health plans (Montgomery, 2008). Moreover, Obama plans to require employers, excluding small-time ones who fall under a range of a relatively low income bracket, to contribute a portion from their salary budgets to the funding of the national health plan. He will also execute a mandatory health care coverage for all the American children, expand qualifications for programs under
Medicaid and SCHIP, and allow the flexibility of state health plans that are already being implemented in several states as long as they would coincide with the national health plan’s minimum standards.
In addition to these, Obama also targets the lowering of medical costs by modernizing the current American health care system. This shall be done by reducing the costs of catastrophic illnesses for both employers and employees through reimbursements; assisting patients through support disease management programs, coordinated and integrated health care, and medical care and costs transparency; ensuring quality care delivered by health providers; and lowering medical costs by investing in electronic health information technology systems and increasing the competition in health insurance and drug markets. Thus, Obama claims that a typical consumer will have $2,500 worth of annual savings if his health care plan worth $50 billion to $65 billion per year will be actualized (www.cbsnews.com, 2007). Furthermore, Obama also plans to lobby for new health initiatives such as the advancement of the biomedical research field, fighting AIDS worldwide, supporting disabled Americans, improving mental health care, protecting children from lead poisoning, reducing risks of mercury pollution, and supporting Americans with autism (www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare, 2008).
On the other hand, New York Senator Hillary Clinton’s primary program in her American Health Choices Plan is to provide mandatory health insurance for every American. Clinton plans to require everyone to have an individual health insurance, and to do so, she would provide for tax credits limited to a portion of household income for families to be able to pay for coverage. Although small businesses would not be covered under the health insurance mandate, Clinton will also support them with tax credit grants (www.cnn.com, 2007). Her health plan would also be offering new health insurance coverage choices, which include coverage similar to the members of Congress and public plan options, for both insured and uninsured Americans. Moreover, she also intends to distribute benefits for current health insured people by reducing costs through removing hidden taxes, strengthening insurance security, and eliminating unfair health insurance discrimination. Clinton’s implementation of universal health insurance shall also promote shared responsibility from all who will benefit under the system, whereas insurance and drug companies shall be barred from exercising discrimination and unfair pricing tactics; individuals shall be required to avail and maintain an affordable and accessible insurance within the system; insurance providers shall cooperate with patients and businesses while rendering quality and inexpensive health care; employers shall be assisting in financing the system of national insurance coverage by apportioning for its funds while also ensuring that they provide coverage for their employees; and the government shall constantly monitor the status of national health insurance by implementing new policies or reforms for the further improvement of the nationwide insurance coverage if necessary (www.hillaryclinton.com, 2008).
As part of Clinton’s goal to provide affordable and accessible health care in her American Health Choices Plan, she has revealed a seven-point plan which aims to resolve the health care cost inflation. Such medical care cost reduction plan includes focusing on prevention of illnesses and diseases, usage of more computer technology, coordination and streamlining of care for chronically-ill patients, offering individuals and small businesses market access to larger insurance pools, improving the quality of health care, controlling prescription drug costs, and reforming medical malpractices (Paddock, 2007). In terms of implementing such plans, her funding will be derived from the savings that will be realized from overhauling the current wasteful and expensive health care system. Moreover, Clinton is also geared towards further health actions in the future with her plans for fighting cancer, autism, HIV and AIDS, an agenda for reproductive health care and for supporting senior citizens, and an attempt to find a cure for breast cancer.
Looking closely, there are several similarities in both Obama’s and Clinton’s plans for national health care. Primarily, both focused on providing health care insurance coverage for the Americans and making way for a substantial decrease in current medical care costs. Obama particularly pushes for the availability of health insurance for all Americans while Clinton is determined to require every American to be health-insured. With regard to diminishing medical care costs, Obama and Clinton’s plans have concurred in terms of improving medical information technology and establishing a wider market for the health insurance and drug industry. Although their methods and strategies are different, they are both guided by the same objective of ensuring that American citizens enjoy proper health and wellness. In a country as progressive as the United States, it is a glaring irony that its overly expensive medical care cost of almost twenty cents per every dollar earning does not ensure effective health care at all. In response to this, both Obama and Clinton have drafted national health care plans offered to the
Americans, either of which is upheld and implemented, will give a known possibility of developing the current health care system of the country.
Within a few months, the final Democrat presidential nominee shall be made known and Republican candidate John McCain will finally meet his rival. Yet, in the event that either Obama or Clinton shall be excluded from the official presidential race, none of both should back away with spite and drop everything they have meticulously planned for the country’s progress, including their comprehensive national health care plans. Being in an elected position is not the only way to improve and serve America. As dominant figures who have already gained influence and power over the nation, even if they do not make into presidency, Obama and Clinton can still make a difference by pursuing their noble intentions and grand plans for the country. And as they hail from the same political party, Obama and Clinton should still support whichever of them reaches the farthest in the country’s race for political supremacy. And until a new president is in position, America will still await for its current health care system to head towards a better direction.
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