STEVE INSKEEP, host: President Bush's plan for health reform would use the tax code to make it more appealing and affordable to pur-chase health insurance on your own. This plan, though, is receiving a cold response from key Democrats, and here's one reason: Many experts worry that the approach could also destabilize the system of employer-based coverage.
NPR's Patty Neighmond reports.
PATTY NEIGHMOND: Under the Bush plan, people would pay taxes on health insurance premiums, but only if the policy cost more than $7,500 a year for an individual or $15,000 a year for a family. Len Nichols is a policy analyst with the New America Foundation.
Mr. LEN NICHOLS (Policy Analyst, New America Foundation): It stops the strong preference for untaxed health benefits and makes all people more cost-conscious about what kind of health insurance policy you want...
Mr. NICHOLS: It would very much encourage healthy people to leave their current group coverage through their employer and go out into the individual market or non-group market and buy it on their own, where they could, the healthy, find it relatively cheap and they could pocket large savings off their tax bill for doing this.
NEIGHMOND: For example, a 25-year-old might buy a coverage for $4,000 a year and take a $7,500 tax deduction. Nichols says many younger, healthier workers would likely opt for this when the cost of their employer coverage is higher because the group includes some older and sicker workers. And if, say, half a company's workforce chooses to buy benefits on their own, then, says Nichols, employers would be encouraged to stop providing health insurance...
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