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Health care costs, wages, and aging

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  • Louise Sheiner
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    Abstract

    While economists generally agree that workers pay for their health insurance costs through reduced wages, there has been little thought devoted to the level at which these costs are passed on: Is each employee's wage reduced by the amount of his or her own health costs, by the average health costs of employees in the firm, or by some amount in between? This paper analyzes one dimension of the question of how firms pass health costs to workers. Using cross-city variation in health costs, I test whether older workers pay for their higher health costs in the form of lower wages. I find that in cities where health insurance costs are high, the age/wage profile is flatter, indicating that older workers do pay for their higher health costs in the form of reduced wages. This finding is robust to the inclusion of several other city-specific variables that might also affect age/wage profiles and that could be correlated with health insurance costs. I also find that workers who choose family health insurance coverage pay for the added employer costs through reduced wages.

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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/1999/199919/199919abs.html
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1999-19.

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    Date of creation: 1999
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-19

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    Related research

    Keywords: Medical care ; Wages;

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    References

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    1. David Neumark, 1992. "Are Rising Wage Profiles a Forced-Saving Mechanism?," NBER Working Papers 4213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Montgomery, Edward & Shaw, Kathryn & Benedict, Mary Ellen, 1992. "Pensions and Wages: An Hedonic Price Theory Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(1), pages 111-28, February.
    3. Jonathan Skinner & John E. Wennberg, 1998. "How Much is Enough? Efficiency and Medicare Spending in the Last Six Months of Life," NBER Working Papers 6513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Edward P. Lazear, 1990. "Adjusting to an Aging Labor Force," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 287-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Arleen Leibowitz, 1983. "Fringe Benefits in Employee Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Labor Cost, pages 371-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Esel Y. Yazici & Robert Kaestner, 1998. "Medicaid Expansions and The Crowding Out of Private Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6527, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:fth:stanho:e-88-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
    9. William M. Gentry & Eric Peress, 1994. "Taxes and Fringe Benefits Offered by Employers," NBER Working Papers 4764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Frank, Robert H. & Hutchens, Robert M., 1993. "Wages, seniority, and the demand for rising consumption profiles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 251-276, August.
    11. Henry J. Aaron, 1994. "Issues Every Plan to Reform Health Care Financing Must Confront," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 31-43, Summer.
    12. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1985. "The Relationship between Wages and Benefits," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 379-398 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Kate Bundorf, M., 2002. "Employee demand for health insurance and employer health plan choices," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 65-88, January.
    2. Bhattacharya, Jay & Bundorf, M. Kate, 2009. "The incidence of the healthcare costs of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 649-658, May.
    3. Adams, Scott, 2007. "Health insurance market reform and employee compensation: The case of pure community rating in New York," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1119-1133, June.
    4. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Kimmel, Jean, 2008. "New Evidence on the Motherhood Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 3662, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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