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New Research From EBRI: Study Examines Issues in Capping Tax Exclusion of Health Coverage
Date:1/15/2009

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) today published a detailed study of the implications for employers and workers involved in capping the tax exclusion for employment-based health coverage, an issue that could come up during this year's expected debate over overhauling the nation's health care system.

Changing the tax treatment of employment-based health coverage has been a policy goal of both parties as far back as the 98th Congress (when Ronald Reagan was president), writes Paul Fronstin, director of the EBRI health research and education program and author of the study in the January 2009 EBRI Issue Brief.

He also notes that because employment-based health coverage is by far the most common source of health coverage in the United States, proposals to change the way coverage is taxed could have "far-reaching implications" for employers and workers.

The Issue Brief, available online at www.ebri.org, includes the following points:

  • Current tax treatment: The amount that employers contribute toward workers' health coverage is generally excluded, without limit, from workers' taxable income. In addition, workers whose employers sponsor flexible spending accounts are able to pay out-of-pocket expenses with pretax dollars. Employers can also make available a premium conversion arrangement, which allows workers to pay their share of the premium for employment-based coverage with pretax dollars.
  • Tax cap recommendations: In 2005, a presidential advisory board concluded that limiting the amount of tax-preferred health coverage could lower overall private-sector health spending. The panel recommended a cap on the amount of employment-based health coverage individuals can exclude from their income tax,
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SOURCE Employee Benefit Research Institute
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