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Hillary's Health Plan

Senator Hillary Clinton has just unveiled her health care plan. According to The New York Times (Clinton Unveils Health Plan link), it provides health care for all Americans without new bureaucracies. She would prohibit insurance companies from denying those with health problems or charging them higher rates. She would also permit people happy with their existing coverage to keep it, enroll in a plan similar to the one government employees have, or enroll in a plan similar to Medicare. She relies on large employers to insure their employees or contribute to a big government insurance pool. She would give small employers tax credits to insure their employees. Clinton would also require everyone to have health insurance.

There are a few things that trouble me about her plan. She relies too heavily on the insurance companies to provide lower rates. Right now, 31 percent of the cost of insurance is absorbed by overhead. How is that going to change? The other big question is how small businesses can afford to insure their employees insurance, given a mere tax credit? Many small businesses pay few corporate taxes now. This is a small budget item.

Of all the Democratic presidential candidates, Dennis Kucinich supports a single-payer insurance plan. But he will not get the nomination. Barack Obama’s plan does not require coverage for all Americans. This a mistake. When you’re young and healthy, it’s easy to think you’re immune from life-threatening illnesses. But we are all vulnerable. Like requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets, insurance is a protection for all. It should be required. John Edwards says he will end insurance coverage for the president and all members of Congress on his first day as president unless they passed universal health care reform by July.

Published: September 19, 2007


Privacy Implications
Senator Clinton may have performed a better job of packaging her proposal this time. The details still need more illumination. She talks about privacy, but does not spell out specific prinicples her plan will include to protect patient privacy. Under HIPAA, many entities can obtain your health information, raising the risk of identity theft and mishandling of sensitive personal information. A good list of principles to protect patient privacy can be found at the website of patientprivacyrights.org. The site also contains an excellent description of how HIPAA became a "disclosure" law rather than a law to protect patients from having their private health information sold.
Steve Lilienthal, Sep-21-2007