Baucus Hints at Changes to Tax Breaks for Employer-Provided Health Care

By Staff Report

May. 14, 2009

Changing the tax-favored status of employer-provided health care coverage could make the system fairer, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana.

As his committee moves closer to considering comprehensive health care reform legislation, Sen. Baucus voiced concerns Tuesday, May 12, about the current system in which employers can fully deduct group health care premiums as a business expense and the cost of the premiums is excluded from employees’ taxable income.

At a Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Baucus said he opposes a total repeal of the health care tax exclusion. But the senator also said the exclusion “is not perfect. It is regressive. It often leads people to buy more health insurance than they need,” he said.

“We should look at ways to modify the current tax exclusion so that it provides the right incentives. And we should look at ways to make it fairer and more equitable for everyone,” Sen. Baucus said.

While not mentioning them by name, Sen. Baucus suggested that tax breaks provided through health savings accounts also should be examined to ensure that the benefits are structured fairly and efficiently. Under law, employees can take a tax deduction or reduce their taxable salaries by the amount of their HSA contributions, and accumulated interest on the contributions can be withdrawn tax-free to pay health care-related expenses.

Alarmed at possible moves to curb the tax-favored status of employer-provided health care coverage, the Washington-based National Business Group on Health warned Wednesday, May 13, that such changes could result in making coverage more costly and possibly lead some employers and employees to drop coverage.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

Workforce Management’s online news feed is now available via Twitter



blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Employee Engagement

12 practical employee appreciation ideas for better engagement and retention

Summary Showing appreciation to your employees improves engagement and retention. There are 12 practica...

employee appreciation, engagement, HR, raccoons

workforce blog


California fast food workers bill: why it’s more than meets the eye and how to prepare

Summary: California signs bill establishing a “fast food council” that has the power to raise the indus...

workforce blog

Employee Engagement

7 statistics on employee turnover in 2022 every HR manager should be aware of

Summary July 2022 saw 5.9 million total separations – More Replacing a full-time employee can cost up t...

employee retention, employee turnover