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Health care costs, wages, and aging

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  • Louise Sheiner

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Louise Sheiner, 1999. "Health care costs, wages, and aging," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-19
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Jeremy I. Bulow & Wayne Landsman, 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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    7. 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.
    8. David Neumark, 1992. "Are Rising Wage Profiles a Forced-Saving Mechanism?," NBER Working Papers 4213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cowan, Benjamin & Schwab, Benjamin, 2016. "Employer-sponsored health insurance and the gender wage gap," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 103-114.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. DeVaro, Jed & Maxwell, Nan L., 2014. "The elusive wage-benefit trade-off: The case of employer-provided health insurance," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 23-37.
    5. Lubotsky, Darren & Olson, Craig A., 2015. "Premium copayments and the trade-off between wages and employer-provided health insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 63-79.
    6. Leininger Lindsey & Levy Helen & Schanzenbach Diane, 2010. "Consequences of SCHIP Expansions for Household Well-Being," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-32.
    7. Ines Läufer, 2014. "Das Krankenversicherungssystem in den USA: Bestimmungsparameter des Angebots und der Ausgestaltungformen von Arbeitgeber-Gruppenversicherungen," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 03/2014, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
    8. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Kimmel, Jean, 2008. "New Evidence on the Motherhood Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 3662, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. 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.
    10. Ines Läufer, 2014. "Another perspective on the high uninsured-rate in the USA: Crowding out of long term health insurance by the institutional setting of the U.S. health insurance system," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 02/2014, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.

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    Keywords

    Medical care ; Wages;

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