Barack Obama's Health Care Proposal

Eileen Bailey Health Guide

    Barack Obama has offered a substantial change in our health care industry in an effort to provide access to health insurance to more people in the United States 

    Overview of Barack Obama's Health Care Proposal 

    National Health Care Plan 

    • Plan will be available to the self-employed, employees of small businesses and people that are not eligible for other health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid 
    • Plan will offer benefits similar to those available to members of Congress 
    • Plan will have guaranteed eligibility and will not be able to exclude any one due to sickness or previous medical conditions 
    • Plan will have affordable premiums, co-payments and deductibles. Subsidies will be available for people that cannot afford premiums but do not qualify for other subsidized health plans, such as Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP 
    • Plan will provide portability, allowing people to retain coverage, even when changing jobs or losing their job. 
    • Employers not offering coverage to their employees or not providing a meaningful contribution to health care costs of their employees will be required to pay a fee (based on a percentage of payroll) to the National Health Care Plan. Small businesses will be exempt from this fee.

    National Insurance Exchange 

    • This portion of the plan offers assistance to people who would like to purchase a private insurance plan. It will work to create rules and standards and help to make insurance premiums affordable. Companies participating in this program must offer coverage to everyone that applies, regardless of previous health history.  
    • Benefits for any plans offered through the National Insurance Exchange must be equal to or better than the National Health Care Plan 

    Additional Mandates and Information 

    • All children in the United States will be required to be covered under some health plan. There is no mandate for adults.  
    • Small businesses offering health insurance to their employees will receive an additional tax credit to help offset the cost of premiums and as an incentive to provide benefits to their employees.   
    • Eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP will be expanded  
    • Reimbursement for catastrophic health care costs for employer offered health insurance to guarantee that employee illness or injury will not increase premiums 
    • Increase the use of generic drugs by people using government subsidized plans and prohibiting large pharmaceutical companies from stopping generic drugs from entering the market 
    • Allow Americans to purchase prescription medications from other developed countries as long as they are safe and purchase price is lower than if purchased in the U.S. 
    • Work to make sure mental health benefits are paid for on the same terms as other illnesses are paid for through health insurance. 

    Pros of Barack Obama's Health Care Proposal 

    • The National Health Plan would provide access to health insurance for everyone (even if everyone does not take advantage of it).  
    • With limits on premiums, co-payments and deductibles and guaranteed acceptance, even people that have previously been denied insurance would benefit.  One estimate indicated that in the first year of this plan, the uninsured could be reduced from 47 million to less than 30 million.  
    • The National Health Plan allows for portability, with people enrolled in it able to continue coverage, even if they change or lose a job. 
    • Individuals would have choices in health insurance: employer coverage, if available, purchasing private insurance or enrolling in the national health plan. 
    • Medical underwriting would be eliminated, stopping insurance companies from increasing prices due to age or medical conditions. 
    • The catastrophic reinsurance part of the proposal helps small businesses stay competitive in offering health insurance by allowing them to spread their risk and lowering insurance premiums.  
    • The Urban Institute/Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center shows that over 10 years, Barack Obama's health care proposal will cut the number of uninsured people by more than one half. 
    • The cost over 10 years provides more insurance for more people than any other health care proposals, is relatively the same price and reduces the number of uninsured more. 

    Cons Regarding Barack Obama's Health Care Proposal 

    • The proposal is an outline and doesn't provide specific details. 
    • Barack Obama's plan leans heavily on government regulation (socialized medicine?) and reduces the influence of free market.  
    • Advocates of free market indicate that this type of health care plan would limit patient choices and reduce the quality of health care received.  
    • Barack Obama's proposal would be expensive to finance. Obama indicates this would be paid for through expiring tax cuts, but that is not certain and this money may be earmarked other places in the budget as well. 
    • The proposal also includes funding from cost-saving ideas such as increasing electronic record keeping and strengthening preventive medicine but it is not clear how much money could really be saved from these measures. 

    Joe Biden's Views on Health Care

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    Since Joe Biden was once a candidate for president, he previously developed a health care proposal. This plan can help us understand his views on health care.  Below are a few points from his proposal: 

    • Joe Biden is in favor of developing universal health care through a combination of federal and private insurers and using a free market approach.  
    • He favored expanding the eligibility for SCHIP by increasing the eligibility level and increasing the age of children insured to 21. Families not eligible for coverage under the income guidelines should be allowed to participate on a sliding scale level. 
    • He also favored having access to insurance available to those without insurance by being able to purchase insurance (on a sliding scale) from a federal program offering benefits similar to those currently offered to Congress. 
    • Joe Biden opposes health savings accounts.


    Read Overview of John McCain's Health Care Proposal  



    "Plan for a Healthy America", 2008, Barack Obama,

    "Obamacare: Better Than it Looks", 2007, Jun 19, Timothy Noah, Slate

    "A Fork in the Road: Obama, McCain and Health Care", 2008, Aug 7, Daily Policy Digest 

    "McCain vs. Obama: Health Care Reform", 2008, Aug 25, Diane Sweet, The Michigan Messenger

    "Obama Outperforms McCain Plan in Coverage and Efficiency", 2008, L.Josh Bivens and Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute 

    "Joe Biden on health Care", 2008, WebMD


    Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHDIdiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral TherapyEssential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.

Published On: September 07, 2008