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Health insurance and tax policy

  • Karsten Jeske
  • Sagiri Kitao

The U.S. tax policy on health insurance favors only those offered a group insurance through their employers. This policy is highly regressive since the subsidy takes the form of deductions from the progressive tax system. The paper investigates alternatives to the current policy. We find that the complete removal of the subsidy results in a significant reduction in the insurance coverage and serious welfare deterioration. However, eliminating regressiveness in the group insurance subsidy and extending benefits to the private insurance market improve welfare and raise the coverage. Our work is the first in highlighting the importance of studying health policy in a general equilibrium framework with an endogenous demand for the health insurance. We use the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to calibrate the process for income, health expenditure shocks, and health insurance offer status and succeed in producing the pattern of insurance demand as observed in the data, which serve as a solid benchmark for the policy experiments.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2005-14.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2005-14
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  1. Juan Carlos Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 2004. "On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code," Working Papers 131, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
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  11. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
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  13. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
  14. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
  15. Domeij David & Johannesson Magnus, 2006. "Consumption and Health," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30, May.
  16. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  17. Edward R. Whitehouse, 2003. "The Value of Pension Entitlements: A Model of Nine OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 9, OECD Publishing.
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