Rethinking the Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac Tax": A More Equitable Way to Encourage "Chevy" Consumption

  • Description

The Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac tax" will apply a 40 percent excise tax on total employer health insurance premiums in excess of $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage, starting in 2018. Employer spending on premiums is currently excluded from income and payroll taxes. Economists argue that this encourages overconsumption of health care, favors high-income workers, and reduces federal revenue. This issue brief suggests that the Cadillac tax is a "blunt instrument" for addressing these concerns because it will affect workers on a rolling timetable, does relatively little to address the regressive nature of the current exclusion, and may penalize firms and workers for cost variation that is outside their control. Replacing the current exclusion with tax credits for employer coverage that scale inversely with income might allow for regional adjustments in health care costs and eliminate aspects of the tax exclusion that favor high-income over low-income workers.

Rethinking the Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac Tax": A More Equitable Way to Encourage "Chevy" Consumption