Could you please deliver this note to Democrat and Republican leaders, doctors, hospitals, insurers, employers, drug and medical technology manufacturers and other people responsible for the future of the U.S. health care system? To make things work better, we need to agree on four goals:
First – and hardest – we must find ways to get health care costs to go down or at least level off. Family coverage costing upward of $20,000 just doesn’t sit well on top of typical household incomes of $60,000 or $40,000, much less wages of $18,000 that a new Brookings study estimates as the midpoint for 53 million low-wage Americans, comprising 44% of all workers.
Health costs are way too high to piggyback on federal minimum wage jobs that bring in about $15,000 a year. MIT economists estimate that paying for the needs of one adult and a child requires a living wage of about $20 an hour in rural Mississippi – $41,600 a year; $26 in Minneapolis/St. Paul – $54,080 annually; $31 in the New York metro area – $64,480; and $37 in San Francisco – $77,000. In New Mexico, they calculate the living wage for an adult and child around $25 an hour – $52,000 a year, despite wide regional variation in household income. Middle- and low-wage workers need a raise, including those in the health-care sector.