This is the third in a series of diaries about policies and activities that the Democratic Party can support and undertake in order to improve their showing in November.
As most of us are aware, the lack of universal access to health care is a serious issue in this country. One of the most talked-about ideas is going to a single-payer health care system. This is, however, a political non-starter, and millions of Americans don't have the luxury of waiting around for such a system to be enacted.
In order to stir debate about alternative systems, I present an (admittedly sketchy) alternative plan: federal subsidies for individual insurance.
In this sample proposal, the federal government provides a subsidy to insurance providers on behalf of citizens at the citizen's request. The basic figure, for the purposes of this argument, is $150 per month. This is expanded by $75 for a spouse, and $25 for dependents.
By some quick figuring and making some basic assumptions* to ease the math, the figure of $327.15 annually is found. Obviously, an expansion of public benefits of this magnitude would require some sort of new tax revenue in order to pay for it; one possible solution is a 2% income tax, rising to 3% at $100,000 in income, coupled with a 3% tax on capital gains. The figures for this are elusive (or at least to your humble scribe; real numbers, if found, would be very much appreciated), and are not included in this diary.
Taking advantage of existing free-market solutions would inoculate the Dems from cries of "socialized medicine" which, although rather false, killed the prospect of massive health care reform in the '90's. It would also allow candidates to prefer 'individual choice in matters of health care' to 'reliance on the ability of employers to provide health care.'
Health care is a very winnable issue for Democrats come November, and this is one possible way to both gain votes and provide a necessary public service.
*Assumptions: 300 million citizens divided equally into each year of age, from 0 to 80; 3/5 of adults listed as primaries on their health plans; 2/5 of adults listed as spouses on their health plans; 100% of minors listed as dependents on health plans; no means testing of benefits.
Tax relief, Dem-style?