Medical Coverage Key Issue for Candidates, Consumers and Retailers

Dec 26, 2007


How important is the issue of medical coverage for voters in determining who will be the next President of the U.S.? How will it affect consumers at retail?

As the elections inch closer, each presidential nominee has introduced their own health insurance plan with promises that, should they be elected, it will change the way our healthcare system provides for those Americans who become sick or get injured.

But it can be difficult to keep track of them all, and this is why the Sign-on San Diego website recently ran an article on the major presidential candidates and the health insurance plan each one has been talking up.

For the top three Republicans, it looks as though tax breaks will be the most popular means of financing medical coverage.

Rudy Giuliani has proposed a tax deduction of $7,500 for people who don’t have employer-based health insurance, as well as giving health care vouchers to poor people.

Mike Huckabee has taken a different approach, saying that guaranteeing health care isn’t the government’s responsibility. He does believe, however, that medical coverage should be deductible for families and transferable among jobs.

And Mitt Romney favors “market reforms” for his health insurance plan, which others suggest is code for “tax breaks to subsidize premiums.”

In the Democratic corner, universal healthcare, or something very similar, is the name of the game.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has claimed she would set a goal of universal health coverage by the end of a second term, and wants to require people to buy health insurance. She also would like to require companies to provide medical coverage to employees regardless of medical history.

John Edwards has been even more aggressive, claiming he would put universal health care in place as soon as he takes office. Mr. Edwards says he will pay for the plan by repealing the Bush tax cut on people earning more than $200,000 a year.

The Barack Obama healthcare plan is a bit more conservative. He has proposed creating a national health insurance pool and subsidizing those who can’t afford available group rates. Employers would need to offer coverage, but it wouldn’t be mandatory.

With all the excitement regarding upcoming elections, it’s hard to know whose
plan will succeed and whose won’t. What we do know is that the winner’s healthcare
plan has the potential to effect the lives and livelihood of every American.
Not only will the type of healthcare plan Americans can enroll in effect how
they purchase healthcare products (HSAs and FSAs, for example), but also may
go a long way in determining whether Americans have more or less disposable
income. This, in turn, may impact consumer shopping habits relative to healthcare

Discussion Questions: How important is the healthcare coverage issue to consumers and will it play a major or minor role in determining who becomes the next President of the United States? How will the healthcare proposals being debated by the candidates effect consumers if they are made into law? What will be the impact at retail?

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7 Comments on "Medical Coverage Key Issue for Candidates, Consumers and Retailers"

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Charlie Moro
Charlie Moro
14 years 4 months ago

It is a shame that an election of a president is still done with 15 second sound bites and that issues like health care, social security and Medicare are always postured in terms of the negative impact of any suggestion. Presidents cannot mandate health care. Better yet, it is more of an issue for the states.

While the MA plan is not a perfect solution, it seems to me that getting some basic health coverage at the age of 18, car insurance, home insurance, long term warranties on your washer and dryer, and iPhone, that we should be able to figure out a way to increase the pool and reduce the risk across all people.

Mark Lilien
14 years 4 months ago

The 2008 Presidential election has 2 gorilla-size issues: war and health care. Yes, there are other issues (taxes, immigration, education, housing, etc.) but there are only 2 BIG issues. And health care is unique because it impacts everyone personally. Folks don’t just vote based on the issues, though. They like to be comfortable with the personalities.

Which retailers should be most concerned about the election? Drug stores, because without the pharmacy profits, the huge location expansion of the past decade would not have been possible. After drug stores, the next most concerned should be unionized stores, because their health care plans are major obstacles to overhead reduction. The nonunion lowest possible wage retailers might fear government-imposed health care contributions, but since that cost would penalize all employers, it won’t make anyone uncompetitive.

David Biernbaum
14 years 4 months ago

Healthcare coverage will play a major role in the presidential election only if one or more candidates will launch a proposal or idea that is perceived by the media, then the public, as a major variation from the status quo. So far, the issue has not been central, and that surprises me, given how serious this issue should be for so many either one way or the other.

The current system is broken. However, the Republicans seem far more focused on the usual religious, moral issues and immigration and Democrats are focused on Bush and Iraq, and the usual buzz words and phrases, but not so much health care, as I would have anticipated. Unfortunately, most of the most critical issues that impact the lives of Americans are not always the topics brought into focus by the media…or the candidates.

David Livingston
14 years 4 months ago
All of the candidates will promise something. Few people get free health care anymore. Really, it’s never free because what an employer pays for premiums is money that could be paid in salaries. Health care is expensive, running about $12,000 a year for a family along with big deductibles and copays. Realistically, I know that no matter what kind of health plan is passed, if you are paying $12,000 in premiums, you probably will continue to pay that one way or the other, most likely through increased payroll taxes. Universal health care will only benefit those without insurance and those are probably occupants in the USA who don’t vote anyway. What we all want is to get $12,000 a year worth of health insurance for $5,000 or less and I don’t see that happening. The candidates will try to candy coat their plans to make it look like we get something for nothing, but I doubt it will happen. Most of us have a fear that we will have to share waiting rooms with poor… Read more »
Max Goldberg
14 years 4 months ago

The aging of the Baby Boomers will ensure that health care remains a top issue. Its rank will be determined by other circumstances: the status of the war in Iraq, sudden, unexpected events like Bhutto’s assassination and the overall state of the economy.

In many ways, consumer concern about health care is linked closely to their views on the state of the economy. No matter what the White House says, Americans are uneasy about the economy. They feel the pinch at the gas pumps and in their inability to finance lifestyles through refinancing their homes. An unexpected illness could destroy retirement savings.

Retailers are caught up in this because as consumers view the economy, so do they shop. Witness the somewhat disappointing sales of the Christmas holiday.

With more and more people having only catastrophic illness coverage, or no coverage at all, health care will remain a hot topic of conversation on the campaign trail.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
14 years 4 months ago
I don’t know that health care is as much of an issue as health insurance. We have a first rate health care system in the USA, what we don’t have is decent health insurance. You may not be aware of it but insurance companies cap what they will pay for each procedure a health provider performs. Additionally, in most cases they don’t even pay these deep discount cap rates. They hold back payment until they owe a doctor $100,000 or so. Then they call the doctor and offer to cut him a check for 60% to 70% right now in settlement for the entire $100,000. If the doctor won’t settle then they string the payment out for months, call for audits or anything to keep from paying the doctor what he is owed. Now, I know everyone is saying this can’t be true–but it is! The insurance companies force the doctors, hospitals, etc. to increase their charges to cover what the insurance companies don’t pay. This is the major broken part of our health care… Read more »
jack flanagan
14 years 4 months ago

When will we see a candidate that has the moral courage to simply cite (and then appropriately react to) proven and repeated research by unbiased sources that shows a minimum of one third of current health care spending is pure waste? Yes, I know it’s not ‘sexy’ like promising universal health care.

As a related aside, why don’t more retailer CEOs do what politicians are apparently afraid to do–challenge the inefficiencies in health care rather than hope that throwing more money at the root causes will outrun the growth in costs due to those root causes?


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