Broad Support For A New Direction In Health Care
June 8, 1999
Currently, there are more than 43 million Americans without health insurance. As the number of uninsured people grows, Congress has been looking for a way to address the problem.
A new proposal by the Health Policy Consensus Group -- which includes experts from a spectrum of thinks tanks -- recommends making health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans by changing the tax treatment of health insurance.
Currently, health insurance premiums are partially deductible -- but only for the self-employed, and not the unemployed or those workers whose employers do not offer health insurance benefits. The Consensus Group recommends providing individual and family tax credits, up to some specified amount, or other fixed incentives for the purchase of health insurance.
The purpose of the Consensus Group Plan is to:
- Provide help to millions of Americans not eligible for health insurance tax subsidies.
- Offset the growing ranks of those who are uninsured due to rising health coverage costs and co-pays.
- And initially target at least the lowest income uninsured who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
Access to care would be greatly expanded, says the Consensus Group, by creating a consumer-driven health care system that includes consumer choice, competition and incentives to be cost-conscious health consumers.
Members of the group looking for free-market solutions include the National Center for Policy Analysis, Cato Institute, Pacific Research Institute, Heritage Foundation, Progressive Policy Institute and Urban Institute. Academics endorsing the plan include health economist Mark Pauly, of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Kevin Vigilante of Brown University's School of Medicine. Grace-Marie Arnett is the acting head of the loosely organized group, which was started in 1993 in an attempt to find an alternative to the Clinton health care plan.
Source: National Center for Policy Analysis, June 8, 1999.
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