Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to guests at a barbeque hosted by Jeff Kauffman in Wilton, Iowa on Nov. 22, 2015.
Scott Olson—Getty Images
By Tessa Berenson
December 9, 2015

Ben Carson released a brief health care plan Wednesday, which promises to allow people to return to their pre-Affordable Care Act plans, constrains Medicare, and moves Medicaid from the federal government to the states.

The plan hinges on repealing Obamacare and creating individual health care accounts for each citizen at birth. The value of those accounts could accumulate over time and be transferred to others as if they were checking accounts.

Under his plan, Carson says people would be free to return to private plans they used before the Affordable Care Act, even if those plans did not meet the “minimal essential coverage” requirements put in place by the federal government. Pre-Obamacare plans often were less expensive, but did not meet basic expectations of insurance.

Also under Carson’s plan, the age that seniors would become eligible for Medicare would jump from 65 to 70. Seniors in the program would receive fixed contributions to their own choice of private health plan, rather than a government one.

Medicaid, meanwhile, would be shifted to the states, although Carson would block state officials from using federal money to administer the program. Instead, Medicaid dollars would have to be used to pay for coverage or go to people’s private health savings accounts. The plan does not stipulate how states would pay to administrate the program.

Four pages of Carson’s ten-page plan are full color photos of himself, including two from when he worked as a neurosurgeon. In one of the images, he looks intently at brain scans, and in the other, he is wearing full scrubs performing a surgery.

On its surface, Carson’s plan repeats many of the conservative criticisms of Obama and his signature domestic achievement. But other than promising to dismantle Obamacare, Carson’s proposal lacks specificity. It’s unclear how, exactly, he would improve the delivery of health care, how his plan would keep costs down, or how those who cannot afford quality insurance would pay for medical treatment.

“By expanding HEAs and high-deductible insurance coverage, my plan returns money and decision-making where it belongs — into the hands of American patients and their doctors,” the conclusion of the plan reads.

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@timeinc.com.

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