2008 Presidential Candidate Health Care Proposals: Side-By-Side Summary
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a comprehensive tool for comparing the health plans of all the presidential candidates. It allows users to select as many as four candidates at a time for a side-by-side comparison that can then be formatted into a printer-friendly pdf. It summarizes their positions in four overall categories - access to health care coverage, cost containment, improving the quality of care and financing.
Ezra Klein used the tool to compare McCain's plan with what McCain's campaign site says and this is his synopsis:
It's another of these plans to sprinkle magical tax credits all across the land that will incentivize folks to buy less health insurance, but do absolutely nothing for the cost of care. Families get a $5,000 tax credit to help them buy insurance, and they can keep what they don't use, and so the hope is, they'll buy plans with higher deductibles, be unable to afford the deductibles, and will thus buy less care. [...]Sigh...why do candidates keep pushing these non-plans? Polls show that voters aren't interested in expanding the market driven, private insurance-based system that perpetuates our present health care nightmare. National health insurance is the cure they want.
There's a bit more pabulum about encouraging price transparency and sound medical research (all good things, none of which are expanded into actual policy ideas on the site), and it does hint at removing the employer deduction for health insurance (which would be good in many ways, but is politically impossible), but at base, this is a big heap of nothing. It doesn't make health care cheaper so families can better afford it. It makes cheap insurance cheaper so families will buy more of that, and thus use less health care.