The Wall Street Journal used the following headline to an article exploring a healthcare reform issue: “GOP Senators Weigh Taxing Employer-Health Plans”. The article itself is a well-balanced presentation of the issue but the article headline gives a very different impression. WSJ article
The issue is that employment benefits that are part of a worker’s remuneration, such as health insurance, are excluded from a worker’s taxable income while a self-employed worker who buys their own health insurance (the private market) cannot deduct it’s cost from their taxable income. Both Democrats and Republicans recognize that this is unfair to those who do not receive employer provided health insurance. They differ over how to eliminate this unfair treatment—whether to include the value of health insurance in taxable income for both or to exclude it, as is done with employer provided coverage, for both. No one is proposing taxing health insurance as the article’s title suggests. The following headlines would give a rather different impression for the same proposal: “GOP Senators weigh equal treatment of health plans between employer and self-employed provided plans” or even, “GOP Senators weigh including value of health insurance in taxable income for everyone.”
As I have noted before we must find ways to reduce the cost of health care in America (it costs twice as much as care in Europe with poorer results) while insuring that everyone has reasonable access to it. But how we allocate its cost and structure the payments of those costs determine the incentives faced by the medical care industry that have played a major role in inflating those costs. https://wcoats.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/health-care-in-america/
Author: Warren Coats
I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989. After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017. Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75. I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise. In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.” My recent books are One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina; My Travels in the Former Soviet Union; My Travels to Afghanistan; My Travels to Jerusalem; and My Travels to Baghdad. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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