From Clean Air to a Clean Bill of Health

Using Allowance Trading Under the Clean Air Act as a Model for Covering All Private-Sector Employees

Paul Seltman proposes an innovative variation on an employer mandate or a "play-or pay" approach to expanding health coverage for the employed population. To respond to critics of employer mandates, Seltman proposes a market-based system of trading in "allowances," which employers could buy to postpone the time by which they would have to insure all of their employees. The system is designed to give businesses more flexibility and lower compliance costs than other employer mandate approaches do. The concept is adapted from provisions of the Clean Air Act, which successfully used allowance trading to help abate sulfur dioxide emissions that contribute to acid rain.