Oct. 2, 2008 -- Twice as many uninsured people in the U.S. will have health insurance in 10 years under Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan than under Sen. John McCain's plan, according to a report by the health care research group The Commonwealth Fund.
The report released today highlights what the group considers to be key differences and areas of agreement in the health care reform packages proposed by the two presidential candidates.
Insurance coverage projections came from a report released last month by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that is a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.
Tax Policy Center analysts estimated that McCain's proposal would reduce the number of Americans who are uninsured from a projected 67 million to 65 million in a decade, while Obama's proposal would leave 33 million people uninsured.
A critic of the report, Robert Moffit, PhD, who directs the Center for Health Policy Studies for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, called the projections "nonsense."
He also noted that Obama's plan is very similar to one put out by the Commonwealth Fund earlier this year. Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis acknowledged this in a news conference Wednesday.
The cost of McCain's health care plan over a decade was projected to be $1.3 trillion, compared to $1.6 trillion for Obama's plan.
"This week as we face a crisis in our financial system we must also remember that we are facing a crisis in our health care system," Davis says.
She notes that between 1999 and 2007, the number of uninsured Americans increased by 20% to 46 million people. And millions more are underinsured, with health insurance that does not cover their medical needs.
"Rising health care costs and the decreasing quality of health insurance coverage are contributing to the economic insecurity of American families by shifting more of the financial burden of health care costs to families," she says.
Comparing the Candidates' Plans
John McCain's health care plan seeks to expand coverage through the individual insurance market by allowing people to shop for health insurance nationwide and by replacing the current tax exemption for employer-provided insurance with tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families.
Under McCain's proposal, employer contributions to insurance plans they provide to employees would be taxable. He also favors the creation of a federal fund to expand existing state high-risk pools to people who have health conditions that make it difficult to get private coverage.
Commonwealth Fund Assistant Vice President Sara R. Collins tells WebMD that McCain's plan would be much fairer for low- and middle-income Americans than the Bush administration's recent proposal to replace the employee benefit tax deduction with personal income tax reductions for people who purchase health insurance.