Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bush Health Proposal

Reuters reports the new heath insurance initiative from the Bush Administration:

Bush's health-care proposal would use tax breaks to make it easier for people who do not have employer-provided health insurance to buy coverage on their own. The tax incentives would be similar to deductions used by homeowners for the interest on their mortgages, Bush said.

But the program is intended to have no effect on government revenues because the cost of the tax breaks would be offset by changing the way health insurance is treated in the tax code, according to a senior administration official who described the proposal to reporters.

The current health system relies primarily on employers to provide health-care coverage as a fringe benefit. Employees are not taxed on the benefits but the Bush plan would set a cap on the amount of coverage that could be offered tax-free.

Anything above that would be taxed as income, the administration official on condition of anonymity.

Economists have long suggested that tax subsidies lead to excessive use of employer-provided health insurance. This proposal would help fix that problem, while giving a helping hand to the uninsured.

Note that some Democratic economists have made similar proposals in the past, so there is hope that this idea will command bipartisan support.