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The Individual Health Insurance Market: Researchers, Policy Makers Seek Common Ground on Tax Credits for the Uninsured

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Publication Date: December 2002

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Series: Issue Brief No. 58

Topic: Health (Health care financing)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

As policy makers in Washington consider the use of tax credits to encourage uninsured Americans to buy health insurance, researchers and policy experts debated the merits of the individual health insurance market at a conference sponsored by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) and Health Affairs. One presenter estimated that the individual market works acceptably well for about 80 percent of potential buyersbut is unlikely to help the remaining 20 percent, who suffer from the worst health. Another presenter argued that the individual market is not a good place to target substantial new resources aimed at lowering the number of uninsured persons.A proposal that intrigued many conference attendees is to have the federal government serve as a reinsurer of the individual market by assuming responsibility for most of the costs of people in the highest 2 percent to 3 percent of the national spending distribution.