Government spending on health care in the U.S. is on a course to consume about a third of national income by mid-century – an amount that would absorb the entire federal government budget as well as all state and local government budgets, according to a study published by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).
Ideal reform in this country would allow unlimited contributions to HSAs and permit such accounts to wrap around third-party insurance – paying for any expense the insurance plan does not pay.
The United States has very meager spending controls. If current trends continue, U.S. government health care spending will consume an ever growing portion of national income — far more so than any other developed country.
Surging demand for oil in rapidly developing countries like China and India and sustained demand in the United States and the rest of the world has outstripped growth in global production, reducing excess capacity to near zero and pushing oil prices to an all-time high of more than $75 a barrel in April 2006.
Former Vice President Al Gore has long argued that human activities — primarily the burning of fossil fuels — are causing the Earth to warm significantly, with potentially catastrophic results. His most recent attempt to persuade the general public of his view is a movie and companion book entitled An Inconvenient Truth.
In his State of the Union Address, President Bush said that "America is addicted to oil." But it would be more accurate to say that America is addicted to opportunity, and oil and its products help us seize it.
Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) has introduced the Health Care Choice Act (H.R. 2355), which would increase access to individual health coverage by allowing insurers licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 1015). If enacted, the law would create a more competitive, nationwide health insurance market.
Consumer-driven health care (CDHC) is leading to new models for the delivery of medical services. Consumer-driven health plans generally include personal accounts — such as Health Reimbursement Arrangements or Health Savings Accounts — that allow patients to directly control some of their health care dollars. Because they have a financial stake in their own spending, patients have incentives to shop for the best price and to make tradeoffs between convenience and cost.
The national average price of gasoline is approaching the record high of $3.21 per gallon (adjusted for inflation) set in 1981. [See the figure.] The public is upset, and politicians are scrambling to find ways to reduce the pain of high prices or, failing that, to appease their constituents by investigating, penalizing or punitively taxing oil companies.
Millions of Americans are saving for retirement in 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). These tax-deferred accounts allow people to invest pretax dollars, but require them to pay taxes on their deposits and accumulated earnings at the time of withdrawal. By contrast, a Roth account allows individuals to deposit after-tax dollars, but withdraw the accumulated balances tax-free.
The Social Security benefits tax – while nominally a tax on Social Security benefits – is really a tax on other retirement income like pensions or personal savings. And it inflicts some of the highest marginal tax rates in the entire federal tax code.
Congress is debating repeal of the estate tax — again. The 2001 tax cuts included a gradual phase-out and full repeal of the estate tax in 2010. But due to the sunset provision imposed by federal budget rules, the estate tax will reappear at its full pre-reform rates in 2011. At that time, estates in excess of $2 million will be taxed at the old rates — up to 55 percent.