Amy B. Monahan

Document Type



Insurance Law


In the United States, the availability of tax subsidies for retirement savings is largely based on an individual’s employment status and whether such individual’s employer has voluntarily chosen to offer a tax-favored savings vehicle. Even where an individual has access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such plans are too often suboptimally designed. This article proposes an incremental reform that ensures universal access to tax-favored retirement savings irrespective of employment status or employer decisions. Borrowing from the model of the Affordable Care Act, the article calls for the creation of an optional, universally available retirement plan, which would be designed according to both retirement savings and behavioral best practices. Such a plan would be designed to increase the number of Americans saving for retirement, as well as the likelihood that individuals will accumulate sufficient savings to maintain their standard of living throughout retirement. After discussing the design details for such a plan, the article concludes by examining the legal and practical challenges of implementing a universal retirement plan at either the federal or state level.

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