Preliminary HSA Limits for 2008

Former White House health policy advisor Roy Ramthun has announced what he estimates will be the limits for deductibles, out-of-pocket exposure, and health savings account (HSA) contribution limits for 2008:

 

2007 Amount

Est. 2008 Amount

Self-only coverage
Minimum deductible

$1,100

$1,100

Maximum HSA contribution

$2,850

$2,900

Out-of-pocket maximum

$5,500

$5,600

Family coverage
Minimum deductible

$2,200

$2,200

Maximum HSA contribution

$5,650

$5,800

Out-of-pocket maximum

$11,000

$11,200

Ramthun, who is the president of HSA Consulting Services, LLC, writes:

We now know all the data points to calculate the 2008 numbers for HSAs. This will give everyone offering an HSA program in 2008 much more time for planning. In past years, this information was not available until very late in the year.

Noting that the minimum deductible limits for HSA-qualified health insurance probably will not change from 2007 to 2008, Ramthun writes:

This means HSA-qualified plans will not have to make any changes to their plan designs because their current policies will meet the minimum deductibles and out-of-pocket limits for 2008.

Ramthun further notes that the limit on “catch-up” contributions by HSA holders age 55-64 in 2008 will remain $900; that amount is set by law rather than a formula, and will top out at $1,000 in 2009.

The IRS will publish the official HSA limits for 2008 by June 1.

For more on HSAs, click here.

Too Many Americans Have Their Snouts in the Federal Trough

A disturbing new reports estimates that more than one-half of Americans are somehow dependent on government for their livelihood. This is part of a troubling trend, and has worsened in recent years thanks to the profligacy of the Bush Republicans. Investor’s Business Daily certainly understands the danger of having a nation where the people riding in the wagon out-number (and maybe out-vote) the people pulling the wagon:

Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J., figures that 52.6% of Americans, which includes dependents of direct recipients, “now receive significant income from government programs” … the data from 1950, when a mere 28.3% of Americans relied on Washington, that really shows how needy we’ve become. … if the current pace is not abated in 10 years, the percentage could exceed the 55% mark of 1980, the year Reagan was elected on a platform of scaling back the federal behemoth. By 2040, it could be 60%, Shilling reckons. This bodes ill for any prospects of cutting government back to any reasonable size and reforming our messy and intrusive tax system. … when more than half of the country has a financial interest in seeing the government grow, that’s the part of America to which they will cater. That’s certainly not healthy and it is likely unsustainable. … How long before the richest and most productive Americans decide that they will no longer prop up the poorest and least productive? With their political influence waning as that of the untaxed and low-taxed Americans and those who live off the government grows, they can either seek a tax-haven nation where government isn’t a growth industry, or they can choose to be less productive. Neither choice is good for America’s future.

Jurisdictional Competition Forcing Switzerland to Lower Tax Rates

While Switzerland generally is a low-tax country – at least by European standards – the tax rate on hedge funds if far too high and London dominates the European market. Thanks to this tax competition, Switzerland is moving to lower its tax rate, showing that even tax havens sometimes need jurisdictional rivalry to control the burden of government.

Tax-news.com reports:

The Swiss government is reportedly mulling a plan to improve the tax regime for hedge funds in a bid to lure more fund managers away from London, which currently dominates the European hedge fund industry. … One of the key proposals that has been floated includes a special 10% rate for the fund industry, amounting to an effective cut in the marginal tax rate of 35%. “The financial marketplace is of enormous importance to our country,” Merz was quoted as observing in the report. “I know that we have a disadvantage in taxes. We understand the problem, and we have to solve it.” … Switzerland had been overtaken by competitors which offered more flexible regulatory structures, lower taxes, and access to the lucrative EU market on preferential terms. However, Merz told Bloomberg that the new policy was not designed as a “frontal attack” on London’s hedge fund dominance, but was aimed at stimulating greater jurisdictional competition for fund business in Europe.

Over-Taxed Canadians

Having just survived tax day, Americans may not be in the mood to feel lucky, but at least they should be thankful they do not live in Canada. According to a new report from the Fraser Institute, the average Canadian family is paying 45 percent of its income to the government. Since medieval serfs only paid a third of their income to the Lord of the Manor, Canadian taxpayers need an old-fashioned tax revolt. The National Post reports on the new study:

Taxes are eating into Canadians’ incomes more than ever, costing the average family more than food, clothing and housing combined, suggests a new survey. … The average Canadian family earned $63,001 in 2006 and paid taxes equalling $28,311, almost 45 per cent of its income, while spending 35.6 per cent of its income on food, clothing and housing. According to the institute, 45 years ago that same family earned $5,000 and paid $1,675, or 33.5 per cent of its total income, in taxes. In 1961, the average family spent 56.5 per cent of its income on the necessities of life.

Ron Paul and the Establishment

You get a sense of Ron Paul’s challenge in the Republican presidential race when you look at this Washington Post graphic about early fundraising. Not only is Paul running way behind the frontrunners in the money race, but the Post tells us who some of the notable donors to each candidate are. Mitt Romney is supported, for instance, by Mormon motel mogul J. Willard Marriott. Giuliani has Yankees boss George Steinbrenner. McCain draws support from Henry Kissinger and a managing director of the Carlyle Group. (Can you guess which one is the candidate of the Republican Establishment?) And apparently, the most notable contributor to Ron Paul is … Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project. It’s going to be a long campaign.

For the Democrats, interestingly, the Post eschews listing corporate moguls; instead, it tells us that supporters of the various candidates include Laurence Tribe, Steven Spielberg, Zach Braff, and Paul Newman. Democrats are just so much cooler. And I guess Clinton, Obama, and Edwards just didn’t get any money from The Rich. Funny thing, though, Hillary’s top five zip codes are all in Manhattan, and Obama’s are all in Manhattan or Chicago. Who knew all the hip young TV stars lived in such places? Edwards, however, did pull in a bundle from Beverly Hills 90210.

The Border … Is You

Tomorrow, the House Homeland Security Committee is hosting a “Border Security Tech Fair.”

Vendors scheduled to participate include: Sightlogix, Scantech, Wattre, Hirsch, Bioscrypt, Cogent Systems, Cross Match, L1 Identity, Sagem Morpho, Motorola, L3 Communication, Authentec, Privaris, Mobilisa, and Lumidigm.

I don’t know all of these companies, so I made some educated guesses about the links (and I may have gotten the wrong division of Motorola), but it appears that fully 11 of the 15 participants are in the biometrics industry.

If you think for a minute that this is about the boundary line dividing the United States from its neighbors, I have a bridge to sell you. No wait - I have a “biometric solution” to sell you.  Mobilisa, for example, is being used to run background checks on the citizens of Clermont County, Ohio.

Participants in the Homeland Security Committee’s lunch briefing are all in the biometrics industry.  One of them, James Ziglar, wrote an op-ed in favor of a national ID in Monday’s New York Times. He claims it’s not a national ID, but then, he’s got a biometric solution to sell you.

Sounds Appealing

Jonathan Rauch’s piece on Dwight Eisenhower and the foreign policy vision he handed down to a generation of foreign policy practitioners, includes this little gem:

Eisenhower’s staff secretary and closest aide, Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, once said of his boss, “He was an expert in finding reasons for not doing things.”

Sounds like a good attribute in a president to me.