IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper

A Defense of the Current US Tax Treatment of Employer-Provided Medical Insurance

  • Kevin X. D. Huang

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Gregory W. Huffman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

The US tax system currently provides an incentive for individuals to obtain medical insurance through their employers. This feature introduces a distortion which encourages households consume more medical services than they otherwise would, and likely results in the medical consumption taking up 17 percent total consumption, which is much higher than in other advanced economies. This unusual and unique tax treatment is widely excoriated as resulting in high costs and distorting consumption decisions. This paper presents a simple general equilibrium model to compare the outcomes for different systems for the provision of medical services. It is shown that the current tax system may be superior to an identical system in which the tax subsidy is absent. It also is shown that eliminating the tax subsidy for employer-provided medical insurance results in higher unemployment, lower output, and lower welfare. Furthermore, having the government raise taxes to finance the provision of medical care results in substantial decreases in employment, output and welfare.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu10-w01R.pdf
File Function: Revised version, October 2011
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 1001.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:1001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
  2. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Prescott, Edward C., 1974. "Equilibrium search and unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 188-209, February.
  3. Mankart, Jochen & Oikonomou, Rigas, 2012. "Household Search and the Aggregate Labor Market," Economics Working Paper Series 1225, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  4. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why Do Americans Work So Much More Than Europeans?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000413, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Michael Pries & Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Hiring Policies, Labor Market Institutions, and Labor Market Flows," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 811-839, August.
  6. Richard Rogerson, 2008. "Structural Transformation and the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 235-259, 04.
  7. Feldstein, Martin & Friedman, Bernard, 1977. "Tax subsidies, the rational demand for insurance and the health care crisis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 155-178, April.
  8. Olovsson, Conny, 2004. "Why do Europeans Work so Little?," Seminar Papers 727, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  9. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  10. Robert Shimer, 2012. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 127-148, April.
  11. Bassanini, Andrea & Marianna, Pascal, 2009. "Looking Inside the Perpetual-Motion Machine: Job and Worker Flows in OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 4452, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
  13. Motohiro Yogo, 2009. "Portfolio Choice in Retirement: Health Risk and the Demand for Annuities, Housing and Risky Assets," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2009.
  14. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Labor Supply Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers 297, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2002. "Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Job Mobility: A Critical Review of the Literature," NBER Working Papers 8817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1990. "The Cyclical Behovior of the Gross Flows of U.S. Workers," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(2), pages 85-156.
  17. Richard Rogerson, 2004. "Two Views on the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 447-455, 04/05.
  18. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-83, June.
  19. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:1001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.