urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research


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Immigrant Policy. (Compare Immigration Policy.) Governs how immigrants are integrated into the U.S. economy and society.

Immigration Policy. (Compare Immigrant Policy.) Determines who enters the country and in what number.

Income Disregards. Welfare policy that ignores a portion of a family's income when calculating their benefits, thereby allowing families with some earning to continue receiving assistance.

Income Concept. A measure of income, typically used as the basis for a distribution table. See cash income and economic income.

Income Supports. (Compare Work Supports.) Benefits that come in the form of cash or are similar to cash.

Indexing. Adjustment to dollar amounts to account for inflation. For example, the standard deduction, personal exemptions, and tax rate thresholds are increased every year by an inflation index. The measure of inflation most often used is the Consumer Price Index.

Individual Mandate. An individual mandate is a legal requirement that individuals (either the whole population or defined subpopulations) enroll in health insurance coverage that meets the minimum standards set in the law.  These requirements can be met by enrollment in public insurance coverage (if the individual is eligible) or by enrollment in private coverage, either through an employer or the direct purchase insurance market.  Failure to comply with the requirement to enroll is generally associated with a financial penalty.

Insurance Exchange, Health Insurance Exchange. An organized marketplace for the purchase of health insurance set up as a governmental or quasi-governmental entity to help insurers comply with consumer protections, compete in cost-efficient ways, and to facilitate the expansion of insurance coverage to more people. Exchanges do not bear risk themselves – they are not insurers. Rather, they would contract with private insurers and possibly offer a public plan option to cover specified populations (such as those obtaining coverage through small employers and those without employer coverage). 

Ideally, an exchange would promote insurance transparency and accountability, facilitate enrollment and the delivery of subsidies, while also playing roles in spreading risk (i.e., ensuring that the costs associated with those with high medical need are shared broadly) and containing costs.  Related research report

IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Retirement accounts funded by individuals through their own contributions or by rolling over benefits earned under an employee-sponsored plan. 


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