Cost of tax-exempt health benefits in 1998.
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)
Lobbying and advocacy for the public's health: what are the limits for nonprofit organizations?
Nonprofit organizations play an important role in advocating for the public's health in the United States. This article describes the rules under US law for lobbying by nonprofit organizations. The 2 most common kinds of non-profits working to improve the public's health are "public charities" and "social welfare organizations." Although social welfare organizations may engage in relatively unlimited lobbying, public charities may not engage in "substantial" lobbying. Lobbying is divided into 2 main categories. Direct lobbying refers to communications with law-makers that take a position on specific legislation, and grassroots lobbying includes attempts to persuade members of the general public to take action regarding legislation. Even public charities may engage in some direct lobbying and a smaller amount of grassroots lobbying. Much public health advocacy, however, is not lobbying, since there are several important exceptions to the lobbying rules. These exceptions include "non-partisan analysis, study, or research" and discussions of broad social problems. Lobbying with federal or earmarked foundation funds is generally prohibited. (+info)
Alternative funding policies for the uninsured: exploring the value of hospital tax exemption.
The tax exemption accorded private, nonprofit hospitals is being subjected to more scrutiny as the numbers of uninsured grow; meanwhile, charity care competes with market-driven priorities. Current public policies tie hospital tax exemption to the provision of charity care, but there is a gap in the size and distribution of values between tax exemption and the charity care that is provided. Most hospitals, in a study reported here, provided free care at a level below the value of their tax exemption, even when 50 percent of bad debt was included in the care value. However, hospitals in the poorest communities offered considerably more care than the value of their tax exemption, whereas those in wealthier communities offered considerably less. Policies at local, state, and federal levels should be designed to exert leverage on hospitals to provide free care at a level commensurate with the value of their tax exemptions. (+info)
Hospitals sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church: separate, equal, and distinct?
For centuries, the Catholic Church has been a major social actor in the provision of health services, particularly health care delivered in hospitals. Through a confluence of powerful environmental forces at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the future of Catholic health care is threatened. Although Catholic hospitals are a separate case of private, nonprofit hospitals, they have experienced environmental pressures to become isomorphic with other hospital ownership types and, on some dimensions, they are equal. To keep pace with the changing demands of religion and the social role of the hospital, Catholic hospitals continue to redefine themselves. To justify a distinct and legitimate social role, more research should be conducted to develop and measure indicators of Catholic identity. (+info)
The economics of for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals.
This paper examines the economics of for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals through the prism of capital acquisitions. The exercise suggests that of two hospitals that are equally efficient in producing health care, the for-profit hospital would have to charge higher prices than the not-for-profit hospital would, to break even on capital acquisitions. The reasons for this divergence are (1) the typically higher cost of equity capital that for-profit hospitals face; and (2) the income taxes they must pay. The paper recommends holding tax-exempt hospitals more formally accountable for the social obligation they shoulder, in return for their tax preference. (+info)
Expanding coverage via tax credits: trade-offs and outcomes.
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)
Private initiatives and policy options: recent health system experience in India.
In the recent past the impact of structural adjustment in the Indian health care sector has been felt in the reduction in central grants to States for public health and disease control programmes. This falling share of central grants has had a more pronounced impact on the poorer states, which have found it more difficult to raise local resources to compensate for this loss of revenue. With the continued pace of reforms, the likelihood of increasing State expenditure on the health care sector is limited in the future. As a result, a number of notable trends are appearing in the Indian health care sector. These include an increasing investment by non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the hospital industry, leading to a spurt in corporatization in the States of their original domicile and an increasing participation by multinational companies in diagnostics aiming to capture the potential of the Indian health insurance market. The policy responses to these private initiatives are reflected in measures comprising strategies to attract private sector participation and management inputs into primary health care centres (PHCs), privatization or semi-privatization of public health facilities such as non-clinical services in public hospitals, innovating ways to finance public health facilities through non-budgetary measures, and tax incentives by the State governments to encourage private sector investment in the health sector. Bearing in mind the vital importance of such market forces and policy responses in shaping the future health care scenario in India, this paper examines in detail both of these aspects and their implications for the Indian health care sector. The analysis indicates that despite the promising newly emerging atmosphere, there are limits to market forces; appropriate refinement in the role of government should be attempted to avoid undesirable consequences of rising costs, increasing inequity and consumer exploitation. This may require opening the health insurance market to multinational companies, the proper channelling of tax incentives to set up medical institutions in backward areas, and reinforcing appropriate regulatory mechanisms. (+info)
Perspectives on stimulating industrial research and development for neglected infectious diseases.
This paper summarizes recent thinking on stimulating industrial research and development (R&D) for neglected infectious diseases and argues that it is critical to enlarge the value of the market for medicines and vaccines through, for example, global purchase funds. The most important economic barriers to R&D are that the commercial markets are small and that individual purchasing power is severely limited, even though the number of patients may be very large. Since R&D costs for all diseases are high, this means that returns will not cover investments. Various mechanisms have been proposed to address this economic imbalance (accepting that other barriers will also need to be considered). Economic devices which reduce the costs of R&D--push factors--are useful, but our review suggests that high costs do not explain the shortfall in R&D. Economic devices which address the lack of viable markets have been termed pull factors and are designed to create or secure a market, thereby improving the likelihood of a return on investments. One pull mechanism is the commitment in advance to purchase a product that meets specified criteria, if invented. The purchase-precommitment approach has a number of attractive features. For example, it only rewards successful outputs rather than supporting research that may not succeed. Pull programmes effectively mimic the market and lead companies to favour lines of attack that they believe will lead to marketable products. Overall, a combination of push and pull mechanisms is likely to represent an attractive approach. This could combine, for example, increased funding for public laboratories, public-private partnerships in R&D, purchases of underutilized existing products, and a precommitment to purchase new drugs and vaccines when developed. (+info)