Opinion

Tax credits must be paired with requirement to purchase coverage

LETTER — Posted July 19, 2004

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Regarding "Tax credits are best approach for uninsured" (Editorial, June 14): Your editorial highlighted the clear potential to provide subsidies in order to reduce the number of uninsured. However, the editorial did not discuss the key follow-on issue, the mandatory use of such credits.

The key issue is that the purchase of health insurance cannot be left to a voluntary decision. Because 20% of the population generates 80% of the costs, all of the 80% must join the insurance pool in order to reduce the costs for the 20%.

Therefore, we have no choice but to discuss and eventually pass an individual health insurance mandate. Through this mechanism, the 15% of the population who is uninsured will be simply forced to buy health insurance, just as we are forced to buy into Social Security.

By complementing such a mandate with the subsidies provided by refundable tax credits or tax deductions, depending on the income, we should be able to cover the remaining 15% of the population who persist in remaining uninsured, within weeks of passing such a simple law.

Kenneth S. Abramowitz, New York

Editor's note: Abramowitz is a health care analyst and general partner at New Global Network, a health care venture capital firm.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/07/19/edlt0719.htm.

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