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Health Reform Through Tax Reform: A Primer

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Publication Date: May 2008

Publisher(s): Tax Policy Center

Author(s): Jason Furman

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Banking and finance (Taxation and tax policy)

Keywords: Tax Reform; Simplification and Administration; Taxation of Households; Low-Income Households

Type: Report


Tax incentives for employer-sponsored insurance and other medical spending cost about $200 billion annually and have pervasive effects on coverage and costs. This paper surveys a range of proposals to reform health care, either by adding new tax incentives or by limiting or replacing the existing tax incentives. Replacing the current tax preference for insurance with an income-related, refundable tax credit has the potential to expand coverage and reduce inefficient spending at no net federal cost. But such an approach by itself would entail substantial risks, so complementary reforms to the insurance market are essential to ensure success.