Meet the Joneses: How Would McCain's Health Care Plan Affect the Average American Family?

In the series' final installment, "GMA" looks at McCain's health care plan.

Sept. 5, 2008 — -- Last week, "Good Morning America" talked to Billy and Lourdes Jones of California, who said that in the upcoming election, health care was the most important issue for their family.

Ever since their daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the couple has struggled to pay for their family's health care needs.

"We realized [that] with the HMO, it's kind of hard to get the support we needed," Lourdes said. "We have to pay out of pocket."

"We're trying to find solutions -- to help her and to eventually be less stressful for her and also our family as a whole," Bill added.

"Good Morning America" has looked at how Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan would affect the Jones family. Click here to see that report.

But how would Sen. John McCain's health care plan help?

"For the Jones family, John McCain thinks they should be in charge," McCain's senior policy adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, told "Good Morning America." "So specifically, under his proposal, they'd be able to go to another HMO, maybe even an HMO in Delaware or Kansas or West Virginia -- places where ADHD is covered by law."

The ability to purchase insurance from out of state and carry it from job to job is a key component of the McCain plan. The McCain campaign added that the senator would give a $5,000 tax credit to every American, allowing each to buy his or her own insurance.

But he would also start taxing any health benefits employees receive from their employer as income -- something that has never been done before. According to Holtz-Eakin, the tax is logical.

"You have to face the fiscal reality," he said. "You can't just hand out money. For everything that you might think is a good idea, it's a sensible plan that takes what we use right now and distributes it more fairly."

There's also the question of how helpful a $5,000 tax credit would be to an average family like the Joneses.

ABC News' medical correspondent Dr. Tim Johnson thinks it will not help much.

"The cost of health insurance in the open marketplace for a family is typically, and this is for just basic coverage, between $10,000 and $15,000," Johnson said. "So that doesn't quite add up."

Hotlz-Eakin says the McCain plan would just do the best with what is available.

"What you will hear the other side say is every American should have health care as good as a congressman. Fifty million uninsured, $7,000 per policy, $350 billion. So no one has that money," he said. "They're not being honest about what can be done. $5,000 is more than the existing help to people who have employee-sponsored insurance."

Johnson is also concerned about putting the burden of navigating complex insurance plans directly on the people.

"It's much easier for people to have group insurance through their employer who does the hard legwork in negotiating with the insurance companies and then presents you with some choices," he explained. "The idea that individuals are going to have enough knowledge, and enough savvy, and enough insight, and frankly enough guts to make choices all by themselves is pretty much a pipe dream."

Holtz-Eakin assured "Good Morning America" that people would not be left completely without advice..

"You can't take the government out entirely. You do have to provide consumer protection. We'd also have to make sure that every state offered the Guaranteed Access Plan, so that if you're denied coverage, you have a place to go," he said.

Unlike Obama's health care plan, which includes mandatory coverage for children, McCain's plan includes no mandates.

"Mandates mean that you know enough in advance to tell the insurance company what the Joneses need," Holtz-Eakin said. "John McCain doesn't think he knows that. He'd rather make sure that, number one, the Joneses are in charge. Number two, there's a competition to please the Joneses. And number three, you're always checking. You check after the fact if they're abusive practices.

"Look, it's a long way from where we are now, which is a health care system which costs too much for what we get," he said. "It'll take time. This isn't something we write one bill and say, 'Hey, victory.' This is about making sure we get our money's worth for health care in America. That's the key."

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