How much do care workers pay for health care?
A new study by University of Utah health economists shows that health care costs can vary dramatically by worker type.
The study, published Monday in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looked at pay for services provided by workers in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The authors found that workers in healthcare jobs had a median hourly wage of $12.75 per hour in 2014, and that workers earning less than $15 per hour paid $1.14 more than those who earned more.
The average hourly pay for those earning less and $15 an hour was $18.87 and $19.84, respectively.
The researchers also found that median hourly wages for the country’s top 1 percent of workers were more than twice as high as those of workers earning below the median.
The median hourly pay of workers in care work was $12 per hour.
“These findings reveal that, as workers in high-income countries experience increasing economic insecurity, it is important to understand the impact of care worker costs on workers’ wages,” said lead author Kristin Cappelli, a doctoral student in the UO’s Department of Economics.
“The more precarious a worker is, the higher the average hourly wage that the worker pays to care for an individual is.
For example, in Australia, workers in skilled jobs are paid less than those in non-skilled jobs.
In contrast, workers with low skill levels are paid the same as those with higher skill levels.”
In the United Kingdom, workers earning between $15 and $18 per hour are paid about $2 more per hour than workers earning more.
In Canada, the median hourly hourly wage was $13.75 in 2014.
“Our findings suggest that the average worker pays about $10.30 to $12 for healthcare services, or about 0.5% of their hourly pay,” Cappellis said.
“However, in the case of healthcare workers, this amount is a small fraction of their total earnings.”
Cappella said she and her co-authors hope the findings will spur greater public discussion about healthcare costs and their impact on low-wage workers.
“We think this study shows that we need to start thinking about the health care cost burden on low wage workers in terms of their own pay and the costs they pay to employers and the health systems,” she said.
Cappello and co-author Andrew Stowe also noted that the authors found significant wage variations by location.
Workers in Ontario and British Columbia paid significantly more than workers in Alberta, while workers in New Brunswick paid less.
“While the findings are not the whole story, the finding that workers pay higher costs than workers at other places in the world is interesting,” Cappselli said.
This is a developing story.
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