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TAXES AND HEALTH INSURANCE: ANALYSIS AND POLICY
February 29, 2008

Sponsored by the Tax Policy Center and the American Tax Policy Institute
Falk Auditorium, Brookings Institution 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC

Health care promises to be a central issue in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Candidates of the two parties divide sharply on whether and how to use the tax system to help reform the health system. Please join us on February 29 for a conference on “Taxes and Health Insurance: Analysis and Policy” to be held at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. The conference is cosponsored by the American Tax Policy Institute and the Urban/Brookings Tax Policy Center. Some of the nation’s foremost experts on tax and health policy will present results of research evaluating the effectiveness of tax policy in expanding health insurance coverage and controlling health care spending. CBO director, Peter Orszag, will deliver the luncheon address.

Download paper summaries.

Download conference transcript.

Listen to the audio recordings:


9:00–10:15 amSetting the Stage

Background and history of the tax exclusion
Author: Robert Helms (American Enterprise Institute)
Download PowerPoint

How current tax treatment influences health insurance coverage and health care prices
Authors: Leonard Burman, Bowen Garrett, and Surachai Khitatrakun (Urban Institute)
Download PowerPoint

Discussants: Daniel Halperin (Harvard)
and Anup Malani (Chicago) Download PowerPoint
10:15–10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30–11:45 amEconomic and Behavioral Responses to Tax Incentives

What behavioral economics has to say about impact of current system and reforms
Authors: Richard Zeckhauser (Harvard) and Jeff Liebman (Harvard)

How flexible spending accounts affect health care use
Authors: Arik Levinson (Georgetown), William Jack (Georgetown), and Jessica Vistnes (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
Download PowerPoint

Discussants: Jonathan Gruber (MIT) Download comments
and Ed McCaffery (USC)
12:00–1:00 pmLunch
Luncheon speaker: Peter Orszag (CBO) Download PowerPoint
1:15–2:30 pmReform Proposals

Reform proposal I: tax breaks for all health care spending
Authors: John Cogan (Hoover), Glenn Hubbard (Columbia), and Daniel Kessler (Stanford)
Download PowerPoint

Reform proposal II: using federal tax policy to mitigate problems in nongroup market
Author: Jason Furman (Brookings)

Discussants: William Gale (Brookings) and
Emmett Keeler (RAND Corporation) Download PowerPoint
2:30–2:45 pmBreak
2:45–4:00 pmAdministrative Issues

Administrative issues I: challenges of the current system
Authors: Mary Hevener (Baker & McKenzie) and Chip Kerby (McDermott, Will & Emery)

Administrative issues II: challenges of reform proposals
Author: Janet Holtzblatt (CBO)
Download PowerPoint

Discussants: Stan Dorn (Urban Institute) Download PowerPoint
and Sherry Glied (Columbia) Download comments
4:00–5:15 pmHealth Savings Accounts

Health savings accounts I: short- and long-term effects of health savings accounts
Author: Lisa Clemans-Cope (Urban Institute)

Health savings accounts II: interaction of HSAs and retirement saving
Authors: Henry J. Aaron (Brookings) and Surachai Khitatrakun, (Urban Institute)
Download PowerPoint

Discussants: Douglas Stives (Monmouth University) Download PowerPoint and Bob Carroll (Tax Foundation)