The top tier Democratic presidential candidates – Clinton, Obama and Edwards – have received a lot of attention for their healthcare plans. However, lesser-known candidates Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich all have viable health care plans that are better for the nation. Their plans will reduce costs, spend a minimal amount of money and lay the framework for a better healthcare system that could be accepted by the general public.

Chris Dodd’s plan is somewhat similar to the top tier candidates’ solutions. He too requires employer-mandated health insurance. He allows employers to buy into the federal healthcare plan for federal employees. However, while Obama, Clinton and Edwards mandate that insurance companies not discriminate against people with preconditions, Dodd recognizes that this will not be necessary.

His plan introduces a new bureaucracy called HealthMart. HealthMart will become a federal program that negotiates cheaper health costs and provides federal health insurance for those who want it. Corporations can buy into this program as well. HealthMart, like Wal-Mart, will dictate the industry: Insurance companies can either compete with the cheaper healthcare the federal government will offer, or go out of business. Chris Dodd also gives tax incentives to people who do not smoke, are not obese and are physically fit.

Joe Biden’s plan lays the necessary foundation for universal healthcare. He goes further into how we can cut healthcare costs by requiring preventative care be offered by insurance companies. He would provide universal health care for children, as well as “catastrophic” health care insurance for all. Roughly 50 percent of the bankruptcies in the country are due to a lack of catastrophic health care because employers dropped it from their plans.

Biden realizes that government healthcare still is not trusted, though, and that in order to get bipartisan support, states are better off working on universal healthcare. For example, Utah implemented a plan to force insurance companies to switch to electronic records. While health insurance costs have gone up 13 percent per year in the United States, they have remained relatively flat in Utah.

Joe Biden also realizes that workers need an incentive to get into a public healthcare program. To do this, he will provide scholarships to people going to medical school if they go into the public sector of healthcare. He would increase scholarships for nurses to deal with the shortage of 340,000 nurses that is projected by 2020. To increase catastrophic care and reduce the cost burden on companies, Biden will create a reinsurance plan to reimburse corporations for 75 percent of their health costs for catastrophic care if they provide health insurance for all their employees.

For anyone who saw Sicko and liked the health programs of Britain, France and Canada, then Dennis Kucinich is your choice. He wants a single-payer healthcare system, expanding Medicare to everyone. No more insurance companies – just the federal government. His plan would most likely require an increase in taxes, but this would be nothing compared to the costs our businesses and citizens pay for healthcare.

Unlike the other healthcare plans, the Kucinich plan strives for a not-for-profit healthcare system. This would greatly reduce the costs for businesses. While taxes will increase, all of the United States would share the burden of the tax, not just the wealthy. The plan would increase infrastructure and make hospitals more accessible, unlike the media’s claims that the plan would produce longer waiting periods. If he decides to have a plan more similar to that of Britain, then private health insurance can be bought for those who wish.

All these plans have their promises, their hopes and their failures. Americans want universal healthcare. All of these plans fail to recognize the required infrastructure that will need to be built, leaving it out of the costs. However, universal health care should not be a utopian dream that we cannot reach – a claim Republicans are happy to recite. All of the Democrats have a plan, some better than others, and hopefully they get the bipartisan support they will need to get that plan in motion.