Why McCain has the best health-care plan

archive.fortune.com | 3/11/2008 | Staff
superdudea (Posted by) Level 3
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Is '70s-style stagflation back?

Fortune - Magazine - Americans - Revolution - Way

(Fortune Magazine) -- Fellow Americans, choose your revolution. One way or another, we're getting a new health-care system. The old one is obviously broken. The U.S. now has 47 million uninsured, and costs are out of control. The Department of Health and Human Services predicts that if things continue as they are, health spending will almost double by 2017 to $4.3 trillion, or one-fifth of GDP, vs. 16% today.

So far, the press and public haven't paid much attention to the implications of these dueling visions. This stuff is complicated, and the most revolutionary provisions are buried deep in jargon-filled position papers. But parsing the plans is worth the work: This issue is crucial to America's economic future, and the differences between McCain and the Democrats are profound.

Plan - Flaws - Balance - McCain

Who has the best plan? Both have huge flaws, but on balance McCain's is better.

McCain's main pillar is the elimination of a tax break that employees receive if their employer provides their health care. That may not sound like a shocker, but it is. The exclusion dates from World War II, when the federal government imposed controls on wages, but allowed companies to compete for workers by offering tax-free health benefits in lieu of pay. The law is largely responsible for the nightmarish patchwork of corporate-provided medical plans we enjoy so much today. Employees and their unions demanded richer and richer packages, and employers complied, since they could buy far more benefits for their employees than workers could buy with after-tax dollars on their own. Americans have paid a steep price, however, by sacrificing their raises as corporate insurance bills exploded, never more so than now.

McCain - Junk - Say - Year - Company

McCain suggests that we junk all that. Say you're earning $100,000 a year and your company provides about $9,000 toward your $12,000 family...
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