The debate over the merits of taxing high-cost, excessively generous insurance plans has highlighted Goldman Sachs’s plan as an example. Goldman’s 400 managing directors reportedly receive an average of $40,543 in employer-provided health insurance annually. What has received less attention is how much of the cost the federal government pays. This compensation is provided tax-free. The same result would occur if the compensation were included as income and the government sent each Goldman managing director a check for $14,777 each year.
via An Excise Tax on Insurers Offering High-Cost Plans Can Help Pay for Health Reform — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
I can’t get away from Goldman Sachs even when I try. This is from a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It’s an interesting take on the health-care bill. I’m not sure about taxing insurance plans — I’ve seen research that argues somewhat convincingly that it’s a bad idea — but this is also worth pointing out. The report goes on:
For comparison, consider an illustrative family of three in which the father earns $30,000 as an independent contractor for a small plumbing company and the mother earns $25,000 from a small retailer. Neither small business provides health benefits. The couple has a daughter in second grade at the local public school and pays $100 a week for child care after school and during the summer. The family lives in a modest home and pays $1,000 a month in rent and $250 in utilities. It owes $2,312 in federal income taxes, $6,502 in Social Security and Medicare taxes, and $1,350 in state income taxes. It has two cars with payments of $300 a month each, and pays $2,000 a year in car insurance and $1,000 a year for gasoline. It spends $150 a week on groceries. The couple has avoided accruing any credit card debt, but they have no saving for retirement and no life insurance…
Right now, the federal government pays $14,777 to provide health insurance for each of Goldman Sachs’s managing directors and pays nothing to provide health insurance for this middle-income family. The Administration and Congress face a clear choice: can we modestly reduce the extremely generous government subsidies provided to the Goldman bankers and others similarly situated to help pay for a subsidy worth a fraction of that amount to families of modest means?