Using Tax Penalties to Encourage Insurance

June 13, 2006

The American Medical Association wants those they say can afford insurance - but choose not to buy it - to pay more at tax time.

At a meeting in Chicago today, the nation's largest association of doctors voted to lobby for the tax penalties. The plan would affect individuals who earn above $49,000 a year, and families with incomes over $100,000.

According to board member Dr. Ardis Hoven, many of these uninsured don't pay their bills.

"We're consistently talking about the young, relatively healthy individuals who elect not to buy health insurance," Hoven says. "What happens when they have a motor vehicle accident with severe head trauma and end up in an intensive care unit for three months, what that does is creates an excessive amount of cost to the rest of the system."

The A.M.A. also wants to extend the tax threat to those making less money, but only after lawmakers increase subsidies for insurance.