How the Next President Tackles Health Care

On Nov. 4, one of these two men will be elected the next president of the United States. In January, he'll go before the nation and the new Congress with his plan for America. Here are the major policy points of each candidate:

Health Care Under an Obama Administration

Expand Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage: Under an Obama administration, employers will have to offer coverage to their employees or pay a tax to help cover the uninsured. Some small businesses will be exempt from this requirement. Low-income workers will be eligible for subsidies to purchase employer insurance.

Create a New Public Health Insurance Plan: The plan will be open to the uninsured, and employees who can't get health insurance through an employer. The plan is described as similar to Medicare.

Create a National Health Insurance Exchange: For those who want private insurance, the exchange will act as a watchdog and set up rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure affordability and accessibility. Approved plans will have benefits similar to what federal employees and members of Congress get.

Mandate Insurance Coverage for All Children: Children under 18 must be covered through parents' employer-sponsored insurance plans, through Medicaid or SCHIP, through the Public Plan or Exchange plan.

Control Costs With Insurance Industry Regulation and Electronic Medical Records: Plans to reduce a typical family's premium by $2,500 through savings gotten by Health IT investment and regulating the insurance industry by creating rules and standards.

Health Care Under a McCain Administration

Tax Employer Health Benefits As Income: The McCain plan would end longstanding tax exemption on health benefits paid for by employers to eliminate a bias against those who buy private insurance. People can buy insurance through any organization or association they choose.

Give Families a $5,000 Tax Credit Toward Private Health Insurance: Anyone who buys health insurance will receive refundable tax credits of $2,500 per individual and $5,000 per family. Individuals who buy a policy for less than the tax credit can deposit the remainder in a health savings account. The tax credit could also be used to offset the additional taxes if health insurance is obtained from an employer.

Allow the Sale of Health Insurance Across State Lines: Will deregulate the insurance industry to allow policies to be sold across state lines. The McCain plan would allow for the sale of cheaper policies and allow for portable, multiyear coverage.

Create High-Risk Pools to Cover Pre-Existing Conditions: Will work with state governors to create nonprofit guaranteed access plans to cover people who are denied coverage.

Control Costs With Insurance Industry Competition and Electronic Medical Records: Promote competition in the private market place to drive down costs of policies. Electronic medical records would cut down on waste and help give the public more information on outcomes, quality and cost.

Critics See Problems With Both

While both McCain and Obama have promised lower costs and greater access to health care, critics of the McCain plan say a $5,000 tax credit doesn't go far enough to buy a good family policy. The average cost of a good family policy is around $12,000. And they believe his plan does not provide adequate government oversight.

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