US Presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama, in Iowa City, announced a proposal that would expand health insurance to almost all U.S. residents and reduce premium costs.
The Universal Healthcare proposal would save the average family as much as $2,500 annually. The proposal would require health insurance for children but not adults.
Under the proposal, employers would have to offer health insurance or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a federal fund to provide coverage. The proposal would exempt the smallest employers from the requirement. The proposal would establish a public health plan for residents who cannot obtain health insurance through their employers or current public programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP. The proposal would expand Medicaid and SCHIP to cover more low-income residents.
In addition, the proposal would establish a National Health Insurance Exchange, a regulated market of private health plans in which the public plan would compete. Residents who cannot afford health insurance would pay for coverage on a sliding scale based on their annual incomes, and health insurers could not deny coverage to residents with pre-existing medical conditions. The proposal would include funds to improve technology in the health care industry through measures such as the implementation of an electronic health record system.
The proposal also would establish a reinsurance pool for catastrophic conditions and would call for a focus on preventive care. In addition, the proposal would increase federal regulations on mergers between health insurers. Obama said that the proposal would save the average family as much as $2,500 annually on health insurance costs.
Health care and health insurance become key political issue for US Presidential candidates, and all struggling to control health costs while providing high-quality, easily accessible care.