John McCain has just issued a new health-care bulletin about his health-care plan. In response to criticisms from the likes of Elizabeth Edwards, who notes his plan wouldn’t cover people with pre-existing conditions like her and, indeed, like McCain himself, McCain has amended his plan: States would create “high-risk” pools for people with risky pre-existing conditions.
Wha? Lots of states already have high-risk pools. Thirty states require insurance companies operating there to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Problem is, the premiums they charge for such policies are often twice as high as those for people without pre-existing conditions, and the co-payments and deductibles they charge such people are beyond belief. In other words, the insurance companies technically obey they law. They do offer health insurance to high-risk people. But it’s so expensive almost no high-risk person can afford it.
McCain says his plan would get around this problem by subsidizing the states, which in turn would subsidize insurance companies that offer such “high-risk” plans. But McCain doesn’t specify how much the subsidy would be worth, or how it would work.
This is becoming something of a pattern with McEconomics. McCain issues a policy, such as his tax cuts for everyone under the sun including corporations, followed by a vague “don’t’ worry about the price tag.” But as old-time conservatives used to be fond of pointing out, there’s no free lunch. The net price tag on McCain’s election-year promises already dwarf everything HRC and Obama have proposed. His “high-risk” pool idea is in the same broad “don’t worry about it” category. Which means we should worry.
McCain’s health care plan won’t work even for average people without pre-existing conditions. He wants to end the tax break for employees who get health insurance from their employers (I’ve gone on record in support of de-coupling health insurance from employment), but would offer only $5,000 per family in tax credits to pay for what they’ve lost or never had. Absurd. The average cost of employer-funded health care in the U.S. last year was over $12,000 per family.
Watch your wallets.