The comparative survey uses the circumstances of five real-life people: a couple identified as "over 60 and struggling," a thirty-something couple whose child was born with a major medical condition referred to as "well-insured," and a single, self-employed woman who is called "young and uninsured."
A chart also makes a general comparison of the two candidates' plans in six areas of concern which, in March, 2008 CU survey, 80% of the American people identified as important elements in any plan for health care reform. The six elements:
- Coverage of all uninsured children
- Protection against financial ruin due to major illness or accident
- Ability to get coverage regardless of a pre-existing condition
- Coverage that continues even when people are laid off, change jobs, or start their own business
- Premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses that are affordable relative to family income
- The ability of people to keep their current health insurance if they choose
Of course, health care reform proposed by either candidate should they become president would have to make it through Congress. A McCain plan would probably have to be passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, meaning that in order to get anything done, he will have to compromise more than a President Obama would need to do with a Congress controlled by his own party.
In any case, given that ours is not a parliamentary system in the United States, neither candidate can really promise exactly what they'll get done on health care reform or on any other policy area requiring congressional approval. In 1992, Bill Clinton published what many have said were the most detailed policy position papers in presidential campaign history. While they gave some indication of what the candidate wanted to do, President Clinton had only modest success in getting his legislative initiatives through Congress during his eight years in office, giving up on some and, of course, watching his health care reform proposals come to grief.