Background Paper

Expanding Health Coverage for the Uninsured: Fundamentals of the Tax Credit Option
August 28, 2002


Beth Fuchs, PhD, Mark Merlis & Julie James, Consultants


This paper seeks to provide the basics for understanding the current debate over tax credits as a vehicle for reducing the number of uninsured Americans and focuses attention on some of the associated issues: How is health insurance treated under current tax law? Why tax credits and not deductions? What are the major issues in designing tax credits? Who should be eligible and for what size credit? What changes, if any, would be needed to the insurance market to ensure that policies are available and affordable for people eligible for tax credits? What are the major issues related to administering a tax credit? Proposals pending in Congress are referenced as illustrations of the varied way in which tax credits can be designed and implemented.

Related Materials

See also Retooling Tax Subsidies for Health Coverage: Old Ideas, New Politics, Karl Polzer, National Health Policy Forum, Issue Brief 728, November 12, 1998.

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