Cost of tax-exempt health benefits in 1998. (1/30)

The tax expenditure for health benefits is the amount of revenues that the federal government forgoes by exempting the following from the federal income and Social Security taxes: (1) employer health benefits contribution, (2) health spending under flexible spending plans, and (3) the tax deduction for health expenses. The health tax expenditure was $111.2 billion in 1998. This figure varied from $2,357 per family among those with annual incomes of $100,000 or more to $71 per family among those with annual incomes of less than $15,000. Families with incomes of $100,000 or more (10 percent of the population) accounted for 23.6 percent of all tax expenditures.  (+info)

Individual versus job-based health insurance: weighing the pros and cons. (2/30)

Although the majority of insured Americans receive their health insurance through their employers, some depend on the individual health insurance market. However, with increased criticism of the lack of choice in group coverage and various proposals including subsidies or tax credits to decrease the number of uninsured, the individual market may start to play a larger role. In this paper we conclude that although efficient large-group insurance will appropriately continue to exist, the individual market appears to be improving, in both administrative cost and protection against high premiums associated with high risk. For diverse workers now in small groups with little plan choice, the individual market might become a reasonable alternative.  (+info)

Expanding access and choice for health care consumers through tax reform. (3/30)

A refundable tax credit for the uninsured would complement the existing job-based health insurance system while letting people keep their job-based coverage if they wish. Among the wide variety of design options for a tax credit, policy and political analysis does not reveal an obvious choice, but a tax credit based on a percentage of spending may have a slight advantage. Congress should give states maximum flexibility to use existing funding sources to supplement the value of a federal tax credit and encourage the use of techniques to create stable insurance pools.  (+info)

Expanding coverage via tax credits: trade-offs and outcomes. (4/30)

In this paper we discuss various options for using refundable tax credits to reduce the number of uninsured persons. The effect of tax credits on the number of uninsured depends on the form of the credit scheme adopted. Moreover, since large subsidies for private insurance directed to low-income persons have never been implemented, there is considerable uncertainty about the effect of various tax credit proposals. We find that small credits will do little to reduce the number of uninsured but that credits covering about half of the premium for a benchmark policy might have a significant effect, especially if they take a fixed-dollar form and can be used for policies with few restrictions. Finally, we discuss the normative issues surrounding the "costs" of these credits schemes, and the policy issues raised by the uncertainty of the effects.  (+info)

Effect of the Family and Medical Leave Act on the operation of cafeteria plans. Final regulations. (5/30)

This document contains final regulations relating to cafeteria plans that reflect changes made by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (Act). The final regulations provide the public with guidance needed to comply with the Act and affect employees who participate in cafeteria plans.  (+info)

Pharmaceutical cost-containment policy: experiences in Shanghai, China. (6/30)

BACKGROUND: In the decade after 1983, the annual growth rate of drug expenditure was about four times as high as that of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in Shanghai. In 1993 and 1994, a drug list policy and hospital revenue capping policy were introduced in Shanghai to contain drug expenditure. We studied the impact of these two policies, as a model for similar policies in other parts of China and elsewhere. METHODS: Quarterly drug expenditure data were collected from 1992 to 1996 and more detailed drug expenditure flow was obtained at seven selected hospitals. Twelve focus group discussions were organized to obtain opinions from all stakeholders. RESULTS: The research findings showed a dramatic and continuing decline in the growth rates of total medical and drug expenditures after the implementation of the two policies. The proportion of total medical expenditure attributable to drugs declined from 67% in 1992 to 51% in 1996. The annual growth rate of drug expenditure per ambulatory visit and per bed-day was reduced as well. Drug revenue as a proportion of total hospital revenue declined gradually in all seven hospitals. The two policies did not alter the equity of drug utilization between the insured and non-insured. The government, insurance authority and state-owned drug enterprises all favoured the new policies, while hospital administrators, professionals, joint venture and foreign manufacturers wished for the reimbursement mechanisms to be improved, for retention of their freedom of choice, and for the drug list to be further expanded. CONCLUSIONS: The drug list and capping policies in Shanghai appear to have achieved their objectives of containing the escalation of drug expenditure and improving the rational use of drugs without loss of equity. The underlying causes of the escalation of drug expenditure in China need to be further elucidated.  (+info)

A flexible benefits tax credit for health insurance and more. (7/30)

This essay outlines a concept for a "flexible benefits" tax credit for expanding health insurance coverage and other purposes such as retirement savings plans (with potential withdrawals for higher education, first-home ownership, and catastrophic medical expenses). Two examples are presented. The advantages of a flexible benefits tax credit are considered in terms of efficient use of the budget surplus to help meet the varied (and changing) needs of American families, to eliminate major national gaps in health insurance and pension coverage, and to advance other objectives. If the budget surplus is used wisely, political decisionmakers could achieve health insurance coverage for most uninsured workers and children and assure a future with real economic security for American families.  (+info)

America's affordable housing crisis: a contract unfulfilled. (8/30)

For many poor Americans, having a decent home and suitable living environment remains a dream. This lack of adequate housing is not only a burden for many of the poor, but it is harmful to the larger society as well, because of the adverse effects of inadequate housing on public health. Not only is the failure to provide adequate housing shortsighted from a policy perspective, but it is also a failure to live up to societal obligations. There is a societal obligation to meet the housing needs of everyone, including the most disadvantaged. Housing assistance must become a federally-funded entitlement.  (+info)