The Clinton Health Plan


The health care situation in the United States is in dire
need of a change. The United States spends more money on
health care per individual than any other nation in the
world (14%of its GNP in 1991), and that amount is quickly
rising. Virtually everyone, from doctors to politicians,
recognize the unwieldy situation of health care in America,
and realize that something must be done.
In order to attempt to correct the failures of the current
health care situation, one must understand the problems
that led to the deterioration of the health care system.
Perhaps the main problem with health care today is that
there are 37 million Americans without insurance, and
another 20 million are underinsured
Another large problem with the way health care is presently
organized is - as Clinton helpfully points out - waste.
Some common examples are:
Paperwork: There are thousands of insurance companies in
the US, and each one has many forms for doctors and
patients to fill out. So much so, that doctors spend more
time improving their handwriting than healing people.
Greed and Profiteering: Some drug companies make over
10,000% profit on the drugs they manufacture. In 1991, the
median income of doctors was $139,000 for general
practitioners and $512,000 for specialists.
Unneeded Surgery and Tests: Possibly 15 to 35% of certain
types of operations and tests are unneeded. Malpractice
Suits and "Defensive" Medicine: Doctors pay high premiums
on malpractice insurance which causes them to charge more.
The reason that these premiums are so high is because
currently there are practically no limits to an amount that
can be sued for pain and damages. Defensive medicine -
procedures done to protect doctors from being sued - is
costing this country greatly.
Recognizing that waste is one of the greatest causes of the
high prices in health care, Clinton has introduced a plan
to revise the health care system by eliminating waste, and
making sure that every single American can be covered by a
health plan.
Clinton's plan is based on three premises. First, that
there is enough waste in the current health care system to
cover the costs of his new plan. Second, that his plan will
create competition within the insurance industry. Last,
that his plan can put a cap on insurance prices.
The core of Clinton's plan is to set up regional health
alliances, which would buy insurance on behalf of thousands
of consumers. A seven-member National Health Board will be
set up to scrutinize the health alliances. The health
alliances would be limited by the National Health Board by
having price caps on the premiums, and by assuring that the
health alliances will accept all applicants including those
that are high-risk. Each health alliance will have three or
four different options (HMO, fee for service, and
combination plans) which the consumers could choose from.
In the case of the employed, the insurance would be paid
80% by the employers and 20% by the employees. In the case
of self- employed and non-employed, they would have to pay
the full cost of the premiums by themselves, unless they
qualify for government subsidies.
The Clinton plan also will limit what types of operations
are covered, and it puts restrictions on how long a person
can stay in a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation
center. It would also regulate the wages of specialists,
and the prices of drugs.
Overall, what Clinton's health care plan will do is put
caps on insurance premiums thereby causing competition
between insurers. It will also greatly reduce the waste by:
reducing the paperwork enormously by having fewer insurance
companies; removing unnecessary procedures by putting
limits on the insurance. It will also decrease greed and
profiteering by putting limits on doctor's salaries and on
drug prices.
The Clinton health care plan is not without its faults. One
of the major problems is that it assumes that there is a
tremendous amount of waste in the current system, but many
people say that that is an over assumption. Another problem
is that managed competition, (an attempt to create
competition in the health-care market) might not work in
the health care industry because everything is covered in
premiums, and there is a third indirect party (insurance
company), which does all the "buying and selling" of health
Another problem, which is not a problem with the plan
itself rather with getting it passed, is that there are
many groups opposed to the Clinton plan.
Many politicians do not like Clinton's plan because they
feel that it is too hard on small businesses, forcing them
to pay 80% of their employees' insurance, and because the
Clinton plan does not limit pain and suffering damages for
malpractice suits.All the insurance companies are obviously
against Clinton's plan, because it will put restrictions on
the premiums, and he will force the insurance companies to
accept high-risk patients. Many of the large companies
support Clinton's plan because they already pay the
insurance for most of their employees', and all Clinton'
plan will do is lower their premiums. But, many small
businesses are against the plan because they do not
currently pay any amount of their employees' premiums, and
they feel that the plan will take a large chunk out of
their profits and they will be forced to lower wages.
The AMA (American Medical Association) is against many
things in Clinton's plan, most importantly the imposition
of cost controls and the failure to put financial limits on
malpractice suits(In fact 600 doctors marched up the steps
of Capital Hill "to defend their right to earn six times as
much as the average American family, and still play golf on
In general, no one is happy at the way the health care
situation is being handled now, but even though everyone
accepts the fact that a change is needed, many people are
skeptical about Clinton's health care plan. Yes, his plan
sounds good on paper, but "will it work?" is what many
people are wondering.
Overall Clinton's plan is generally good. If it works it
will provide universal coverage with controlled costs. If
it works. The problem with Clinton's plan, and in fact any
other plan is that it has to put limits on operations,
research, and tests. Who is to set these limits that might
decide whether a person might live or die?
Clinton's plan also does not allow much for freedom of
choice of doctors. Clinton is pushing the HMO (Health
Maintenance Organization) part of his plan, and if one
wants to choose his own doctor, he must pay a deductible
and 20% of the costs of the visit.
Americans, in general, do not want an HMO type system
rather they want to be able to go to the doctor they
choose. American people prefer a trusting doctor-patient
relationship, if they know their doctor it makes life much
Clinton's plan also has a problem in that it does not limit
the amount of money that can be sued for for pain and
damages in a malpractice suit. If Clinton were to add a
clause about limiting the sum of money that could be
collected for malpractice suits, he would get a great deal
more support from the AMA, and from doctors in general.
Right now the health situation is America is very grave,
and right now President Clinton has a possible solution.
His plan does not make everyone happy, and it will not
solve all our health problems no matter how successful it
is, but then again no possible plan will resolve all our
health care problems. There are many criticisms against
Clinton's plan, but if we don't try, we definitely will not
1.A New Framework for Health Care
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.3
2.Bradsher, Keith Business Leaders Voice Skepticisms of
Health Plan
New York Times, October 8, 1993, p.26
3.Church, George C. Lots of Second Opinions
Time, October 27, 1993, pp.34-40
4.Clift, Eleanor "Big Sister" and Critics
Newsweek, November 1, 1993, pp.25-26
5.Clift, Eleanor The Gender Wars
Newsweek, October 4, 1993, p.50
6.Clymer, Adam Growing Consensus On Covering All, But How? 

New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.1
7.Cohn, Bob But What Does It Mean For Me?
Newsweek, September 27, 1993, p.37
8.Cohn, Bob The Power of Sin
Newsweek, October, 4 1993, p.51
9.Eckholm, Erik Moment of Decision for Health Care
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.1 
10.Eckholm, Erik More Choices, But Also More Costs
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.10
11.Egan, Timothy Setting An Example For The Rest of The
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.8
12.Fineman, Howard Clinton's Hard Sell
Newsweek, September 27, 1993, pp.34-36
13.Freudenheim, Milt Medical-Industrial Complex':Who Wins
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.13
14.Gibbs, Nancy Here Comes Dr. No
Time, October 11, 1993, pp.26-29
15.Goodgame, Dan Healthy Dissent
Time, October 11, 1993, p.31
16.Health Care:Clinton Plan, and The Alternatives
New York Times, October 17, 1993, p.22
17.Kerr, Peter Reshaping the Medical Marketplace
November 14, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.11
18.Kilborn, Peter T. Voices of the People:Struggles, Hope,
and Fear
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A, p.1
19.Kolata, Gina Catch-22:Lose Health, Lose Policy
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.4
20.Kolata, Gina Will the Nation Be Healthier?...
New York Times, October 17, 1993, p. 1
21.Lewin, Tamar Those With Large Bills See Aid In Clinton
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.10
22.Lowther, William A Prescription for Change
Maclean's, October 4, 1993, p.39
23.Morganthau, Tom The Clinton Cure
Newsweek, October 4, 1993, pp.36-45
24.Morganthau, Tom The Clinton Solution
Newsweek, September 20, 1993, pp.30-35
25.Pear, Robert Delay on Health Care Reflects Task's
New York Times, October 12, 1993, p.??
26.Reinhold, Robert Amid Mountains of Paper, a War Against
a Tide
of Red Ink. New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A
27.Rosenthal, Elizabeth Confusion, Errors, and Fraud, In
Bills. New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.5
28.Samuelson, Robert J. Health Care:How We Got Into This
Newsweek, October 4, 1993, pp. 30-35
29.Rich, Thomas "A Walk In Space"
Newsweek, October 4, 1993, pp.46-49
30.Rich, Thomas Back To Smoke and Mirrors
Newsweek, October 4, 1993, pp.36-37
31.Whitney, Craig R. Coverage for All, With Choices
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.9
32.Uchitelle, Louis Companies of All Sizes Tally Effects of
New York Times, November 14, 1993, Section 4A p.13

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