The Affordable Care Act imposes a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans in excess of defined thresholds beginning in 2020. Using economic theory and a microsimulation model, we predict how employers will respond to the Cadillac tax by adjusting wages and health insurance benefits. In its first year, 13.34 percent of individual and 16.73 percent of family employer-sponsored health insurance plan holders will be affected by the Cadillac tax; these percentages will increase to 35.33 and 42.01 percent, respectively, by 2025. Over 99 percent of those affected will reduce their health insurance benefits to the thresholds. Effectively, the Cadillac tax will impose a hard cap on health insurance benefits, causing a clustering of benefits at the thresholds and a sharp reduction in the variance of benefits. Revenue from the Cadillac tax through 2025 will total $204 billion, all but $42 million of which will stem from “indirect” revenues—health insurance benefits shifted into taxable wages. This shift will increase wage growth and decrease benefit growth for those affected by the Cadillac tax. We simulate a cap on the tax exclusion of employer-sponsored insurance premiums and conduct sensitivity analyses with linear regression metamodeling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Support for this research was provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Professorship at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Feldman is the acting Blue Cross and Blue Shield Professor. Blue Cross and Blue Shield played no role in the preparation of this manuscript, the research involved in doing so, nor the decision to submit for publication.
- Health insurance
- Affordable Care Act
- Simulation modeling
- Cadillac Tax