Tax incentives and the decision to purchase long-term care insurance

TitleTax incentives and the decision to purchase long-term care insurance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsCourtemanche, C, He, D
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Pagination296 - 310
ISSN Number0047-2727
KeywordsDemand elasticity, Fiscal impact, HIPAA, Itemization, Long-term Care, Long-term care insurance, Medical Expenses, Tax incentive

This paper studies the impact of the tax incentive prescribed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) on individuals' long-term care insurance purchasing behavior. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we find that the tax incentive in HIPAA increased the take-up rate of private LTC insurance by 3.3 percentage points, or 25%, for those eligible. Despite this seemingly strong response, our results imply that even an above-the-line tax deduction would not increase the coverage rate of seniors beyond 13%, indicating that tax incentives alone are unlikely to expand the market substantially. We also present, to our knowledge, the first estimate of the price elasticity of demand for LTC insurance of around −3.9, suggesting that demand is highly elastic at the current low ownership rate. Finally, we evaluate the net fiscal impact of the tax incentive and find that the tax deductibility of LTC insurance premiums leads to a net revenue loss for the government, as the reduced tax revenue from granting the tax incentive exceeds the savings in Medicaid's LTC expenditures.

Citation KeyCOURTEMANCHE2009296