Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Solving the U.S. healthcare problem

Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani today unveiled his plan for fixing U.S. health care.

In his speech here, he excoriated Democrats for advocating a “socialist” solution to solving the problem of the nation’s 44.8 million uninsured, saying the party’s candidates encouraged a “nanny government” by proposing a greater government role in health care.

Instead, he proposed tax exemptions of up to $15,000 per family, allowing individuals to direct that money toward the purchase of health insurance and other medical spending. He also said he opposed any government mandates that would require people or businesses to buy insurance, which is central to the universal health care plan neighboring Massachusetts passed in April 2006 when Mitt Romney, a Republican rival, was governor there.

And to help the poor or others struggling to afford health insurance, Mr. Giuliani said he would support vouchers and tax refunds, but he gave no details about how he would pay for them.

Mr. Giuliani’s vision stands in stark contrast to the plans offered by the leading Democratic candidates. Both Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina have proposed bolstering the employer-based system by requiring corporations to buy insurance for their workers, and raising taxes or rolling back tax cuts to increase subsidies for health care for the poor.

As I stated in this comment thread at Iowa Liberal, my family is in one of those "uninsurable" categories. My husband had thyroid cancer, one of the most treatable kinds of cancer there is, about 4 years ago. But because the Big "C" is on his medical history, he is uninsurable. He also works as a contractor, which means company-sponsored health care is unavailable to us.

Instead, we're one of those American families having to pay for insurance completely out of our own pockets. And that's expensive. Worse, my husband isn't included in the coverage. He could probably get in the state health insurance high risk pool, but the cost is prohibitive. Instead, we just try to keep him as healthy as possible and pray nothing goes too wrong.

This situation makes me ambivalent about socialized medicine. As I stated in this post, universal health care will result in extremely long waits, doctor shortages, and rationing. I still believe that. But, on the other hand, at least it would be something for people like my husband.

I think the health care debate will be big in this campaign season because, as the population ages and there's less job security, there are going to be more people like my husband: high-paid professionals who can't afford the astronomical costs of private insurance. But I'm still not convinced that socialized medicine is the way to go.

Redstate thinks Giuliani's plan looks sound. The usual suspects see it just as a chance to bash Democrats.