Examining John Edwards’ Universal Health Care Plan

It has been released:

Detroit, Michigan – Following a tour of East Riverside Health Center today, Senator John Edwards detailed the cost-saving measures in the universal health care plan he laid out in February. Edwards’ plan to guarantee quality, affordable health care to every person in America plan would save an average family $2,000 to $2,500 a year and eliminate at least $130 billion a year in wasteful health care spending.

So how exactly does all this work? Well there are a few things that struck me:

Edwards’ plan would offer cash payments in place of long-term patents for companies that develop certain breakthrough drugs and then reap large profits because of the monopolies those patents provide.

So essentially, the government would pay drug companies not to make money. In essence, the government will American taxpayers will provide their profit while everyone benefits from cheap drugs. So I have to pay for someone else’s viagra.

He also said his plan would require health insurance companies to spend at least 85% of the premiums they collect on patient care, adding that 30% of insurance premiums currently go toward administrative expenses and profit. He said New York, Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida already impose similar requirements.

I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that health insurance in New York state sucks. So, pointing out that Edwards’ measure would impose similar requirements on other states leaves me in disbelief. If anything, New York State is not the model for the nation in terms of fixing the health industry. Basically this boils down to removing profit from insurance companies. I personally health insurance is a crock and should be done away with entirely. Then health care costs would go down because people would actually pay out of pocket. As it is now, many people with insurance don’t even look at the bill.

A deeper explanation from Edwards’ site:

Reforming the insurance industry by setting national accounting standards requiring insurers to spend at least 85 percent of their premiums on patient care. Without new rules, insurance companies could continue to charge hardworking families excessive premiums, pocketing the savings from health care reform instead of delivering more to patients. Edwards’ Health Care Markets will also drive down costs by making private insurers compete with a public plan.

Those regulations in New York State have done nothing to drive down health care costs, they only have driven them up. As is usually the case, whatever the government sets out to do, it often achieves the opposite.

His plan also would require that all Americans sign up for health insurance and would enact various reforms aimed at lowering administrative costs for providers and improving chronic and preventive care for patients. About 47 million people currently lack health insurance in the United States.

So now he’s forcing me to sign up for government-run health insurance. No, thank you. Count me as one of the 47 million. I *gasp* pay out of pocket. I pay substantially less than what health insurance in New York State would cost.

Edwards has faced criticism for his universal health care plan, in part because it would raise taxes and could cost $90 billion to $120 billion.

“These companies and their unions made a promise to workers,” he said. “And that promise was that they’d have health care coverage. And now it’s time for the government to meet its share of the responsibility of ensuring that those promises are met.”

Wrong again. The federal government is not responsible for ensuring the promises of private industry.

More detailed information:

Edwards Details Cost-Savings Measures In Universal Health Care Plan
Edward’s entire 28-page detailed plan as a PDF [PDF]