Individuals Cover Full Cost Of Health Insurance Through Lower Wages, Taxes

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"Business,government and individuals do not share the financial responsibility for healthcoverage" because individuals "bear the full cost of health carethrough lower wages and taxes," Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the bioethicsdepartment at the NIH Clinical Center, and Victor Fuchs, a professor ofeconomics at Stanford University, write in a ChicagoTribuneopinion piece.

According to the authors, employers "like to say -- and often believe --that they pay for health care," but wages and "fringe benefits, suchas health insurance, are simply components of overall workercompensation." They add, "What is labeled as employers' contributionto the health insurance premium is really paid for by employees through lowerwages and take-home pay." In addition, when the government "pays forincreases in health care costs, it taxes current citizens, borrows -- askingfuture taxpayers to foot the bill -- or reduces other state services thatbenefit citizens," according to the authors.

They conclude, "Controlling health care costs is not easy, but for averageAmericans, it is the only way to sustainably increase wages," and,"if we do it right, it will actually improve the quality of healthcare" (Emanuel/Fuchs, Chicago Tribune, 3/27).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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