Call for examination of tax breaks for employer-based health insurance

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The problem with the U.S. health care system is that it gives "the biggest tax breaks for employer-provided insurance to those in the highest brackets" and makes "everyone over 65 eligible for taxpayer-funded medical care regardless of financial need and, more insidiously, regardless of past opportunity to save," columnist Holman Jenkins writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Jenkins writes that the "sole object" of consumer-driven health care "is to put price tags back on health care so consumers can see them and respond to them."

According to Jenkins, the current health care system "uses copayments, deductibles and health savings accounts to make consumers aware of the cost of their health care."

This strategy "does not fix the incentives created by our tax code and welfare policies," but it "does represent an impulse from within the system (mainly from employers) to save the system from its own contradictions."

He concludes, "[W]hat makes our health care debates an incontinent babble is our unwillingness to confront the subsidies from which the affluent classes benefit most of all.

This is the real problem that stands between us and intelligent action on health care" (Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 9/20).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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