Health Care

Health Care


Douglas Webber, James Bailey | May 28, 2014
As of 2011, the average US state had 37 health insurance benefit mandates, laws requiring health insurance plans to cover a specific treatment, condition, provider, or person. This number is a massive increase from less than one mandate per state in 1965, and the topic takes on a new significance now, when the federal government is considering many new mandates as part of the “essential health benefits” required by the Affordable Care Act.
Marc Joffe | Apr 02, 2014
The high and rising cost of US medical care is partially attributable to legally enforced rigidities in the health care system. By relaxing restrictions, the government can unlock competitive forces that drive prices down and empower individuals to avoid unnecessary, expensive medical services. A more open health care market would give providers incentives to innovate in ways that not only improve the quality of care but also reduce the cost of offering it.
Charles Blahous | Jan 14, 2014
According to a new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the slowdown in health care cost growth is extremely unlikely to solve Medicare’s financing problems. Indeed, such a suggestion primarily reflects an incomplete understanding of how current Medicare cost projections are done.
Jason J. Fichtner, John Pulito | Dec 11, 2013
This paper provides an overview of the intent of the Medicaid program and its budgetary implications. In 1965, when Medicaid was created under Title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance for low-income individuals, the program was considered an afterthought to Medicare. Today, however, more Americans receive coverage from Medicaid than any other health insurance program, including Medicare. Today Medicaid costs nearly $500 billion annually, funded by taxpayer dollars at the state and federal levels. This paper explains the budgetary implications of Medicaid for federal and state budgets and how these obligations will grow under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Jeremy Horpedahl, Harrison Searles | Sep 10, 2013
The exclusion of employer-provided health insurance from taxation lowers federal tax revenue significantly. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government missed out on over $170 billion in income tax revenue and another $108 billion in payroll tax revenue in fiscal year 2012 due to the exclusion.1 Over the next five fiscal years, the federal government would collect around $1 trillion in income tax revenue if employer-provided health benefits were taxed, plus another $600 billion payroll tax revenue. Given the large deficits that the federal government continues to accumulate, this exclusion is a tempting source of new revenue. But closing this loophole would also mean a significant tax increase on all working Americans that currently receive health insurance from their employer.
Daniel Sutter | Mar 21, 2013
Driven by the need to reform unsustainable entitlement programs, policymakers today are looking to the successful example of welfare reform—specifically, to its block grants to states. To inform this discussion, a new Mercatus Center at George Mason University study by Daniel Sutter reviews arguments in the debate over block grants versus matching grants for joint federal-state programs, examines the effects of shifting control of welfare programs to the states, and considers how the lessons from welfare reform can inform the current debate about Medicaid block grants.

Testimony & Comments

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Jul 07, 2014

The White House is certainly within its rights to argue forcefully for the president’s policy position. However, a balanced analysis of the considerations facing states with respect to Medicaid expansion would look very different from this report.
Jul 07, 2014

What has caused the ACA’s financing to immediately unravel in a way that Social Security’s and Medicare’s did not? Part of the answer lies in the decision of the ACA’s advocates to push the law through Congress on a party-line vote despite public opposition. Social Security, by contrast, received overwhelming support from both parties in both chambers.
Jul 01, 2014

Summing it all up: Answer the pre-ex question. Learn the technologies. Identify the obstructions. Make some new friends, targeted precisely for specific islands of reform.
Jun 30, 2014

Around and after the time that the Affordable Care Act was enacted, many analysts identified problems with claims being made about the law, and we offered explanations of its likely actual effects. Too often these were brushed aside amid efforts to promote the ACA in the face of growing public opposition. But four years into the ACA, it is remarkable how well our predictions have been borne out.
Jun 25, 2014

Lately there has been a flurry of articles and columns about how the Congressional Budget Office is no longer able to tell us whether the Affordable Care Act will reduce or worsen the federal budget deficit. Those interested in federal budget policy should understand an important truth underlying this coverage: the problem here lies not with CBO, it is with the ACA. While the ACA’s costs are proving real, several of its provisions designed to produce budget savings are not yet doing so.
May 31, 2014

Robert Graboyes offers health insurance wisdom for hipsters getting the short end of the stick.


In his latest Mercatus on Policy essay, economist Matthew Mitchell makes the case that current US farm policy is neither equitable nor efficient. Both conservatives who value free markets and liberals who value social justice should be clamoring for reform.



Nina Owcharenko | May 06, 2014
Nina Owcharenko, Heritage Foundation Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies and Preston A. Wells, Jr. Fellow, sat down with our state team to discuss her chapter on the state side of Medicaid reform in Mercatus’ recent book, The Economics of Medicaid.

Recent Events

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University invites you to a Capitol Hill Campus program featuring Senior Research Fellow Dr. Robert Graboyes, offering a different economic perspective from the conventional discussion surrounding health care.


Media Clippings

Charles Blahous | Jun 04, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in CQ and also appeared Roll Call.
Robert Graboyes | Jan 29, 2014
Robert Graboyes cited at Star-Telegram.
Tyler Cowen | Oct 30, 2013
Tyler Cowen cited at The Washington Post.
Veronique de Rugy | Oct 10, 2013
On Wednesday, the Obama administration confirmed that citizens must sign-up for health coverage by Feb. 15, 2014, according to the Washington Post. That means the end of the open enrollment period is about six weeks earlier than originally announced. Since applications can take up to 15 days to process, the new deadline is a way to ensure that consumers will have health insurance coverage that begins before March 31; consumers who are not insured by March 31 will be subject to penalties.
Charles Blahous | Jul 08, 2013
“If the employer mandate proves unworkable and subject to possible repeal, even the optimistic representation of positive budgetary effects basically collapses.”…
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