The paper describes the new standard deduction for health insurance, proposed in the FY2008 Budget, and evaluates the extent to which it would meet its stated goals of expanding health insurance coverage and restraining healthcare spending, and its effects on the distribution of tax burdens in the short and long terms. The basic approach would improve the market for health insurance, but inadequate attention was paid to problems in the nongroup market or those facing households with low incomes. In consequence, the plan could actually reduce overall insurance coverage. The paper suggests a variety of ways in which the proposal could be improved so more people would be covered, including those with low incomes or in poor health.
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