kitchen table math, the sequel: speaking of the middle class

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

speaking of the middle class

re: Grace's post "We all want to be middle class" (and other posts on this subject)

I finally found an income chart that includes medical benefits:

Concerned About Income Stagnation? Blame Rising Health Insurance Costs 
(I haven't fact-checked the chart.)

Every time I see articles about stagnating wages, I want to know whether benefits are or are not part of wages. Assuming benefits are not included in most estimates of wages, and assuming this chart is accurate, what we see is health insurance eating up what would have been a nice, steady series of raises.

Good thing we can all buy cheap electronics from China--!


momof4 said...

I'm not sure how many people are aware of how much the definition of "health insurance" has changed over the past 40-50 years. The term used to mean a major medical policy which covered hospitalizations for a major illness or accident. For some, there was coverage for an annual physical, but when I was growing up, no one I (or my family) knew expected insurance to cover doctor visits, medications or outpatient tests. It functioned much more like a car insurance policy; no coverage for routine maintenance or minor problems but major damage was covered. Of course, technology has changed medicine radically in the past 40 years or so; much more can be done for many more diseases, conditions and injuries, but it doesn't come cheap.

BTW; employers started providing health insurance during WWII, because laws forbade raising wages and employers needed to attract employees. The tax benefit continues today, which makes little economic sense.

Catherine Johnson said...

I just found an economist - Lane Kenworthy - who says that "employer-provided benefits as a share of total
compensation haven't increased since the late 1970s."

(Still trying to figure it out.)