A mistitled tax proposal

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/

About wcoats

Dr. Warren L. Coats specializes in advising central banks on monetary policy, and in the development of their capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. He is retired from the International Monetary Fund, where, as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department, he led missions to over twenty countries. Before then, he served as Visiting Economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and to the World Bank, and was Assistant Prof of Economics at the Univ. of Virginia from 1970-75. Most recently he was Senior Monetary Policy Advisor to the Central Bank of Iraq; an IMF consultant to the central banks of Afghanistan, Kenya and Zimbabwe; and a Deloitte/USAID advisor to the Government of South Sudan. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Cayman Financial Review and until the end of 2013 was a member of the IMF program team for Afghanistan. His most recent book is entitled "One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
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