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McCain, Obama health plans critiqued

September 17, 2008 |  3:04 pm

Don't say you didn't know, or can't understand, the presidential candidates' plans for dealing with America's healthcare crisis. Don't say you don't get how they might affect you. It's all out there, analyses from independent, nonpartisan groups as well as from very partisan groups. You can have a quick, Learn about John McCain's health care solutions thumbnail, side-by-side peek at how each candidate sees the future of healthcare. Or you can dig into papers examining the economic and societal impacts of each plan.

A starting point might be where each candidate stands, from his  ownLearn about Barack Obama's plan for healthcare reform  point of view. Sen. John McCain's  site talks about "Straight Talk on Health System Reform." And Sen. Barack Obama's site proposes a "Plan for a Healthy America."

But you might want to see the two plans side by side, comparing and contrasting such things as the candidates' stated goals, overall approach to expanding access to healthcare, changes to private insurance, cost containment, what it'll cost and who will pay. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a private, nonprofit health policy and communications organization, has just what you need.

On Sept. 16, the journal Health Affairs offered a web exclusive with a critique of the Obama healthcare plan, saying its costs are unsustainable, and one of the McCain plan, saying the number of uninsured could grow from 45 million to 60 million in the next five years. Another article in the journal suggests that America's healthcare system could benefit from a mixing and matching from each of the plans.

The bottom line from the healthcare economists who examined each candidates' proposal is that the Obama plan won't curb the escalating costs of healthcare in the U.S., the most expensive system in the world. And McCain's plan won't reduce the number of uninsured, and likely would increase their ranks.

If that's too much to read, you can always go to a Sept. 16 L.A. Times story summarizing the Health Affairs articles.

Even if you've got a job with health insurance, don't think this debate isn't about you. The Segal Co., an actuarial and consulting firm, has put together a report on how the candidates' health reforms will effect your benefits.

If it's issues you want, healthcare is a good one. Don't say we didn't tell you.

-- Susan Brink

Photos: Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama at recent campaign stops. Credits: Left, Gerardo Mora / Getty Images; right, Keith Srakocic / AP