I’m now finally winding down and settling in with my tissues and tea to watch the debate. There are so many things to say about Palin and McCain and the way they’re behaving. I not only fear they’re stirring up something awful by poking the racist underbelly of society and encouraging it to emerge from the shadows with a promise of acceptance if not adulation, but I also fear for the aftermath of this election should their deranged strategy somehow succeed. Who wants to live in a country where this kind of divisiveness prevails?
On a separate note, I’ll be keeping an ear out for health care related questions tonight. Here’s a primer so you can follow along at home:
What To Watch For In Health Care Talk Tonight
- McCain will tax your health care benefits at work
John McCain’s health care plan will make people pay income taxes on the value of their health care benefits at work. So if your employer pays $10,000 a year for your health insurance, you will start having to pay taxes on that $10,000 just like you do on your wages or salary.
- And give you a tax credit for less than five months of health care (after that you’re on your own).
McCain will give a family a tax credit of $5,000 – paid to your insurance company – but the average cost of a family health care plan in 2007 was $12,680. So McCain’s plan will give you enough to pay from January to May. You’ll need to come up with the money for June through December.
- You may be one of 20 million people who will lose your health benefits
A study published in the respected journal Health Affairs found that 20 million will lose their employer-paid for health insurance under the McCain plan because many employers will decide they no longer have a responsibility to pay for health coverage for their workers.
- And be forced to buy health insurance on your own
When you lose your health coverage at work, you’ll need to look for coverage in the individual market. But you’ll no longer have your employer doing the shopping for coverage and paying for coverage.
- You won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions and may not be able to get coverage at all
When you are on your own, health insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions, and they often refuse to sell any coverage to people who have had asthma, cancer, or other common diseases. The federal law that protects people who get health insurance at work doesn’t apply when you buy health insurance in the individual market.
- But you will pay higher premiums as you get older or sicker or if you’re a woman
In the individual market, health insurance companies charge higher premiums to people as they get older, and they charge more for people who have been treated for illnesses. Younger women get charged more than men of the same age simply because they can become pregnant.
- You may have deductibles as high as $11,200 a year with bare-bones benefits and no consumer protections.
You may only be able to afford insurance plans with high deductibles, which under current federal law can be as much as $11,200 for a family plan. John McCain’s plan would also take away the protections that your state now offers people who buy health insurance on their own. Your state law requires health insurance to provide standard benefits and consumer protections. McCain’s plan allows health insurance companies to get out of following your state’s health insurance laws by allowing them to sell across state lines.
- McCain protects health insurance profits by passing the cost to taxpayers and the sick.
McCain’s solution for people whom health insurance companies won’t cover – because they’ve been treated for an illness – is to put them in a high-risk pool paid for by state taxpayers and to charge high premiums.
- McCain will pay for all this by cutting $1.3 trillion (yup, trillion) from Medicare and Medicaid.
McCain finances his plan – which isn’t worth paying for – with massive cuts to the two government programs that provide health coverage for 76 million senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low–income families.
- Of course, John McCain won’t have to worry about any of this for his own health care.
You may not be covered, but John McCain will. As a Senator, he’ll still get good coverage paid for by the federal government. As a veteran, he can also get cared for through the Veterans Administration. And as a senior, he can get Medicare. That’s three ways that the government provides health care for John McCain.