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November 26, 2008
Greater Disclosure Aimed at Curbing Health Costs
Some employers already voluntarily report tax-free employee benefits, including employer-provided health insurance coverage, in Box 14 of an employee’s annual Form W-2, but there is no requirement to do so.

However, employers would be required to disclose the amount of money they pay for an employee’s health insurance on Form W-2, under a discussion draft of legislation released by a group of senators this fall. The senators believe that increased disclosure of health insurance costs would make workers better informed about what they pay for health care and rising healthcare costs.

“The point of the proposal is to inform people about their healthcare costs,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Finance. “… As long as people are insulated from the cost and just think someone else is paying for it, then it’s easy to overlook expenses. But once they realize they themselves are paying for it, it should spark a genuine conversation about what to do. Without any knowledge of how much they are paying, though, people aren’t equipped to join the debate, and their view, generally, is ‘don’t touch my health care.’ And so nothing can get done politically and costs continue to spiral.”

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