Differences Between the Republican and Democratic Healthcare Reform Bills

The Republican Party has spent the past several months serving as vocal opposition to the healthcare reform bills supported by the Barack Obama administration and Democratic members of Congress. During that time, they have seen success in influencing public opinion. However, many were frustrated that Republicans hadn't offered their own plan. Surely they didn't believe that the health insurance system in the U.S. is perfect the way it is? Well, the wait is over. Senate Minority Leader John Boehner has acknowledged the public's demand for an alternative with the debut of the GOP's healthcare reform bill. Obviously, a party that has disagreements with most parts of the Democrats' bills in the House of Representatives and Senate has written a significantly different bill. How exactly are the proposals different?

  • Length: The Democrats' bill is a whopping 1,990 pages long. Meanwhile, the Republican version clocks in at a more reasonable 230 pages. Most politicians should find the latter's length (akin to the average novel) more manageable than the entire encyclopedia that is the former.
  • Mandate: Republicans have eliminated the mandate that would require virtually all individuals to buy health insurance plans, as well as one that would force employers to provide insurance. Those mandates are central to the Democratic bill; their intent is to make sure that the cost of health insurance is spread among a large pool, as opposed to only the sickest of our population.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Unlike the bills proposed by the Democrats, the Republican bill would not ban health insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. This falls in line with the party's more anti-regulatory stance on business.
  • Interstate Insurance Sales: People will be allowed to buy a health insurance plan across state lines under the Republican bill. Insurance is cheaper in some states, since there are fewer requirements or restrictions on what insurers do or do not cover.
  • Abortion Coverage: The Republican bill includes stricter prohibitions on funding of abortions. Democrats have already included a provision that would prevent federal subsidies (given to low income individuals to buy insurance) from being used directly on abortion services. However, the Republicans go further by preventing people who receive the subsidies from buying any health insurance plan that covers abortion entirely--even if they never end up using that particular option. The Republican party has a stronger pro-life base, so this provision could help draw them in. On the other hand, this could also backfire against the Republicans, who have capitalized off the grassroots anger over the possibility of a government bureaucracy making your health care decisions for you.
  • Medical Malpractice: Trial lawyers have been loyal contributors to Democratic politicians. That may be why there isn't significant legislation involving medical tort reform in their bill. Republicans would like to limit jury awards for things like pain and suffering. The most plaintiffs could be awarded would be 0,000 in medical malpractice cases (excluding actual, proven economic harm)
  • Cost: The most recent estimates show the Democrats' plan as costing over trillion over the next decade, while Republicans haven't yet revealed how much their plan will cost. Given how much they complain about the Democratic proposals super-sizing the national debt, it can reasonably be expected that their bill will have a lower price tag.


As you can see, there are significant differences in the bills. Above all, Republicans acknowledge that their bill would insure less people than the Democratic bill. Although both parties care about lowering the percentage of uninsured individuals and families in addition to the budget deficit, there is a trade-off. The latter appears to be a higher priority for the GOP. It appears inevitable that healthcare reform will pass at some point, possibly before the end of this year. The details of the Democratic proposals have been discussed for weeks, while the solutions presented by the Republicans have just made their formal debut. Boehner plans to finalize his party's bill soon, in order for it to be presented when debate on the finalized Democratic bill begins on the House floor. So far, neither strategy for reforming our healthcare system seems ideal. Despite that, it is positive that more options are being presented to the American people. The greater number of minds put together, the faster we can fix the unavailability of affordable health insurance plans in this country.

Differences Between the Republican and Democratic Healthcare Reform Bills
Differences Between the Republican and Democratic Healthcare Reform Bills

Yamileth Medina is an up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims to help people realize that they can get affordable health insurance plans right now while waiting for a public option, if it ever gets passed. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.