Health proposals lack cost growth controls

Oct. 13, 2004 at 5:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A policy analyst Wednesday said neither U.S. presidential candidate has put forward a plan to control the growth in the cost of healthcare.

Paul Ginsburg, an economist and president of the non-partisan and non-profit Center for Studying Health System Change, writes in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine President George Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry, who debate domestic issues Wednesday night, have plans to make healthcare more affordable but they do not slow cost growth.

Ginsburg said per person health spending increased 39 percent between 1999 and 2003 for people with health insurance -- while average hourly wages went up by 14 percent.

"For example, Kerry proposes reimbursing employer-sponsored health plans for 75 percent of catastrophic costs of more than $30,000 per person as long as employers pass on the savings to employees by reducing their share of

premiums," Ginsburg writes. "This proposal for reinsurance would increase affordability not by slowing cost trends, but by substituting government payments for employee payments. Bush also emphasizes affordability rather than cost containment in his proposal for a tax credit for the purchase of individual insurance."

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