As the debate over health care reform continues to unfold in town hall meetings and on Capitol Hill, a new study by two Harvard researchers has found that taxing job-based health benefits would heavily penalize insured, working families.
The study, titled "The regressivity of taxing employer-paid health insurance," appears in the August 19 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. It was written by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, professors at Harvard Medical School and primary care doctors at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts.
The taxation of employer-sponsored health benefits has been advocated by many health economists and lawmakers, including some members of the influential Senate Finance Committee, which is now drafting health care reform legislation. President Obama has said he has not ruled out such a tax to fund his reforms.
Analyzing income and insurance data from the 2005 Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the authors reveal that taxing workers' job-based health insurance would cost those with low-incomes ($0- $10,000 annually) 18.3 percent of their income, but cost high-income (over $100,000) families a mere 2.7 percent. (See the table from the study at http://healthcarereform.nejm.org/?p=1521 )
The authors note that the tax rate would drop even lower for the super-rich. "A Goldman Sachs executive who enjoyed the firm's infamous $40,543 health plan got a federal tax subsidy of about $15,367 last year," they write. "But that's only 0.13 percent of the bonuses received by the company's four top earners. So though taxing health benefits would spare the uninsured, the average poor family with employer-paid coverage would be taxed at a rate 140 times higher than Wall Street titans."
Dr. David U. Himmelstein, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, added: "Most economists and many politicians have claimed that taxing health benefits would hit the wealthy hardest, while sparing the poor. But exactly the reverse is true. For a poor, insured family a tax on their health benefits would take almost one-fifth of their total income."
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-author and professor of medicine at Harvard, said: "Instead of taxing benefits, politicians should embrace the only affordable option for universal coverage: a single-payer, Medicare-for-all program. Single-payer would save $400 billion annually by simplifying administration, enough to assure quality care for everyone. We cannot afford to keep wasteful private health insurers in business, and pay for it off the backs of working families."
Himmelstein and Woolhandler are co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 16,000 doctors and medical professionals who advocate for single-payer national health insurance.
A copy of the study is available at http://healthcarereform.nejm.org/?p=1521
"The Regressivity of Taxing Employer-Paid Health Insurance," David U. Himmelstein, M.D; Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H. New England Journal of Medicine, August 19, 2009.
Drs. Himmelstein and Woolhandler are available for comment on their new study and on other aspects of the health care reform debate. To contact other physician-spokespersons from Physicians for a National Health Program in your area, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions or call (312) 782-6006.Physicians for a National Health Program
Mark Almberg | EurekAlert!
Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss has increased
14.06.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.06.2018 | Life Sciences