“As Republican senators work to fix their troubled health care bill, there is one giant health insurance subsidy no one is talking about. It is bigger than any offered under the Affordable Care Act — subsidies some Republicans loathe as handouts — and costs the federal government $250 billion in lost tax revenue every year,” Kate Zernike writes over at The New York Times. “The beneficiaries: everyone who gets health insurance through a job, including members of Congress. Much of the bitter debate over how to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare has focused on cutting Medicaid and subsidies that help low-income people buy insurance. But economists on the left and the right argue that to really rein in health costs, Congress should scale back or eliminate the tax exclusion on what employers pay toward employees’ health insurance premiums. Under current law, those premiums are not subject to the payroll or income taxes that are taken out of employees’ wages, an arrangement that vastly benefits middle- and upper-income people. The tax exclusion …disproportionately helps the affluent, who are more likely to receive generous health benefits from an employer and who fall into higher tax brackets, making the tax break worth more. A 2008 study by the Joint Committee on Taxation found that not paying taxes on these benefits saved people with incomes less than $30,000 about $1,650. For people with incomes above $200,000, the average tax savings was $4,580.” Kate Zernike, “The Hidden Subsidy That Helps Pay for Health Insurance, The New York Times.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.