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In 2015, Vermont legislators may consider financing plans to implement Act 48, a law that aims to provide universal health care coverage to all Vermont residents starting in 2017. In this analysis, we estimate the economic incidence of payments for health care by Vermont residents and the value of health care benefits received by Vermont residents in 2012 and 2017, without the implementation of Act 48 reforms. The goal of the analysis was to understand how health care is currently paid for in Vermont, and to provide a baseline for understanding the possible effects of Act 48. We use data from the 2012 Vermont Household Health Interview Survey, the Vermont Health Care Uniform Evaluation and Reporting System, and administrative data on taxes to estimate payments in 2012. We then project these estimates forward to 2017, using the RAND COMPARE microsimulation to account for how health care coverage in Vermont will change as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We find that most Vermont residents receive more in health benefits than they pay for directly or through taxes. While lower-income individuals, on average, pay less than higher-income individuals, there is considerable variation across individuals in the level of payment for health care. Much of the current variation stems from the fractured nature of the health system, with some individuals receiving coverage through employers, some through the Exchange (i.e., the health insurance marketplace created by the ACA), and some through other sources. As Vermont considers health care reform, legislators may wish to consider options to reduce the degree of variation in payments made by individuals with similar income levels.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office and conducted within RAND Health.

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