Two Completely Unrelated Issues: and McCain's healthcare plan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I am full of the germs today, so rather than studying for my qualifying exam as I should be, I've been looking at stuff on the internet regarding the election.  One site that I came across that was really sweet is  Apparently they're a bunch of folks who normally spend their time making baseball predictions who decided that they were going to turn their skills of a statistician towards making predictions regarding the presidential election.

Being a guy who for some really strange reason is into bell-curves and statistical analysis, I had quite a good time checking out their website.  I guess what they do is go through all the available polls, chuck in information about demographics and voting trends and then run statistical scenarios regarding the likely outcome of the upcoming election.

Then they make up sweet pie charts, scatter plots, and probability charts regarding their scenarios (their charts remind me of print-outs that you can get with Resampling Stats and SAS JMP, my favorite statistical programs).  Also, from what I can tell from looking at their models, it seems that they provide far more informative analyses than the polls that you might find elsewhere.  And as you can see from the pie charts that are above and left, they're really quite confident at this point that Obama is going to work McCain in the election, which too makes me feel good.  

Now this brings me to the next thing, which is nearly completely unrelated, that I want to talk about.  Some of you might suspect, after reading the above, that I'm all partisan and Democratic and crap.  That is totally false.  I actually think both major parties in the US are either kind of useless or totally full of the evil.  Or, perhaps they're both totally useless and kind of full of the evil.  I'm not sure which.  I just know that I don't like either of them.

However, this election I've decided to cheer for Obama for one reason, healthcare.  And this is what I want to talk about now.  After watching the debate last night, I'm surprised that Obama didn't go after McCain regarding McCain's healthcare plan.

If one really thinks about McCain's plan it seems quite clear that the plan isn't aimed at improving healthcare coverage for Americans.  It's intended to save money for the gov't to spend, I would suspect, on blowing up brown folks overseas and to try to keep the auto industry from exporting jobs to Canada.

McCain's idea that we should start moving to individual coverage, have a $5000 (per family) tax rebate, taxing folks employer health benefits, and to get rid of the rules preventing folks from crossing state lines to buy insurance, won't actually improve coverage.  

This is for several reasons.  First, a substantial number of the folks who lack coverage don't earn enough to pay anywhere near $5000 a year in taxes.  So a tax rebate isn't really going to help those folks out.  Further, with an employer based insurance program, insurers aren't allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  With individual insurance, they can deny coverage all they want.  That might actually lead to fewer people being covered or those who currently have a hard time getting coverage having an even harder time getting coverage.

This would be made even worse without the restrictions preventing insurers from selling insurance across state lines.  As Obama pointed out, the lack of such a restriction would lead to insurers flocking to states with minimal regulation, where they will be able to count more conditions as pre-conditions.  All-in-all, it seems pretty clear that the McCain healthcare plan really isn't intended to provide better and more inclusive coverage.  It's just a way to help big business to avoid having to pay for insurance for their workers (which really does hit the domestic auto industry hard) in a way that avoids the gov't needing to pay all that much ($5000 per family is not that much when you consider that currently individual healthcare coverage for an average sized family costs about $13,000 a year).

I really don't know why the Obama folks don't mention the above.  I think if people were really aware of the consequences of the healthcare plan that McCain has publicly proposed, Obama would get another bump in support.


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