Saturday, July 26, 2008

McCain Has Succeeded in Making Health Care an Issue for Almost Everyone

It hasn't gotten much press yet, but I predict that it will. Candidate McCain has probably succeeded in making health care an issue for all Americans, even if they already have pretty good health insurance. Especially if they already have pretty good health insurance...

John McCain wants to turn your medical bills into taxable income if you get your health insurance through work.

I first heard about this aspect of the McCain health care proposal from Robert L. Borosage, courtesy of the Huffington Post. According to Borosage, the McCain solution on health care is to move America away from employer-provided health insurance and have each of us, individually, go to a private insurance company and negotiation our own health insurance package. To McCain, the results would be obvious:
  • The heavy burden of financing employee health care would be lifted from business - which would be good for "the economy" (by which McCain means big business).
  • Deductibles would be higher in the new privately insured America, and as a result people would be more cautious and selective in their health care demadns. No longer would we run to the doctor for every little cough or sniffle...
Sticks and Carrots

McCain's plan would offer you a tax credit if you had private health insurance - $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family. That's a credit, not a deduction. Reducing your federal taxes by $5,000 a year could be a powerful incentive - if you make enough to pay that in income tax. That's the carrot.

The stick is bigger. McCain want to take the dollar value of what your employer-based health insurance pays out for you in a year and count that as income. If you're one of those stubborn souls who kept your health insurance at work, consider this. If you make $35,000 as a teacher and on the way to work you're in a car wreck that results in a couple of weeks in the hospital, a surgery or two, and your employer-based health insurance footing a $40,000 bill for your medical expenses, your income just more than doubled because that $40,000 payout on your behalf would be taxable income under the McCain plan.

Oh, and since it shows up on your 1040 form, you'll likely end up paying state income tax on it, too.

Skeptical? I'm not horribly familiar with Robert L. Borosage myself, either. But then I figures out that the UMWA was telling its members much the same thing.

Health care used to be an issue for those didn't have it, or if you had loved ones who couldn't afford it. McCain has succeeded in making it an issue for everyone. If you didn't care before, you probably do now. And for what it's worth, as the son of a Navy admiral, a member of the armed forces himself, and the a member of Congress, McCain has had government sponsored health insurance almost every minute of his life...

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