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U.S. tax policy and health insurance demand: Can a regressive policy improve welfare?

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  • Jeske, Karsten
  • Kitao, Sagiri

Abstract

The U.S. tax policy on health insurance is regressive because it subsidizes only those offered group insurance through their employers, who also tend to have a relatively high income. Moreover, the subsidy takes the form of deductions from the progressive income tax system giving high income earners a larger subsidy. To understand the effect of the policy, we construct a dynamic general equilibrium model with heterogenous agents and an endogenous demand for health insurance. A complete removal of the subsidy may lead to a partial collapse of the group insurance market, reduce the insurance coverage and deteriorate welfare. There is, however, room for improving the coverage and welfare by extending a refundable credit to the individual insurance market.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeske, Karsten & Kitao, Sagiri, 2009. "U.S. tax policy and health insurance demand: Can a regressive policy improve welfare?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 210-221, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:2:p:210-221
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