Whichever political party prevails in November, it is likely that the next Congress will, of necessity, address issues of the federal deficit, entitlements, and tax policy—specifically, proposals to modify or reduce existing tax preferences for health and retirement benefits, a new report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) warns.
EBRI recently held a day-long policy forum in Washington that examined the implications for private-sector health and retirement benefits, unveiling its report “‘After’ Math: The Impact and Influence of Incentives on Benefit Policy,” by Nevin Adams, director of education and external relations at EBRI.
The EBRI report notes that since private-sector health benefits alone rank as the largest single “tax expenditure” in the federal budget, various proposals have been made to either reduce or even phase out the cost of that program to the government. “Both for employers that sponsor these benefits—and the workers who receive them—the implications are enormous,” the report says.
According to EBRI, employment-based health benefits are the most common form of health insurance in the United States, covering almost 59% of all nonelderly Americans in 2010 and about 69% of working adults.