Is licensing tax preparers a good idea?

The USA Today writes that “the IRS has proposed a broad initiative that would require hundreds of thousands of tax preparers to register with the government, pass a competency exam and adhere to ethical standards.”  This sounds like a good idea as it will safeguard individuals from unscrupulous tax preparers.  But who will this truly…

How do state health insurance regulations affect the price of high-deductible policies?

A paper by Kowalski, Congdon and Showalter (2009) examines how state health insurance regulations affect the price of health insurance.  The four regulations are the following: Community rating regulations limit premium differences across policies.  The most stringent form requires insurers to offer the same premium to every individual, regardless of age, gender, or health status.…

Federal Health Care Regulation: Taxation

Today we will discuss how the tax code affects health care. Tax exemption of employer-provided health insurance. “In 1943, the Internal Revenue Service (ruled) that employees could exclude the value of employer-paid health insurance premiums from their taxable income. In 1954, Congress excluded by statute the value of employer-purchase health insurance from gross income.” To…

FDA bans import of Indian Pharmaceuticals

Marketplace reports that the FDA has blocked sales from one of India’s largest drug producers, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals.  “It prevented sales of Ranbaxy’s generic versions of the antibiotic Cipro and the cholesterol pill Zocor.” This begs the question: should the FDA put office in foreign countries?  On the one hand, it is important to ensure that imported…

Congress Pushes Curbs on Doctor-Owned Hospitals

The N.Y. Times reports (“Concerned about costs…“) that Congress is trying to impose new restrictions on physician-owned, for-profit hospitals. The legislators fear that these hospitals 1) drive up costs and 2) provide poor quality. Legislators worry that when physicians own the hospital, they may have more of an incentive to order more procedures to increase…

Minimum Insurance Benefit

Many reform advocates have claimed that the federal government should mandate a package of insurance benefits that all private and public health insurers would be legally compelled to provide. Switzerland is one country in which the government defines a what the insurance benefit will be for all standard health insurers. The National Coalition on Health…

The Nanny State: Clean your room!

Libertarians often complain that the government intrudes too much in our lives.  Nanny State, a book by Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi, claims that the government is regulating what we do to an extent that it is becoming a surrogate parent.  “Why are we allowing politicians, bureaucrats, and social activists to dictate what we eat,…