Monday, May 27, 2019

Jersey Jazzman: NJ Public Workers' Health Benefits Are NOT Overly Generous: Some More Evidence

Jersey Jazzman: NJ Public Workers' Health Benefits Are NOT Overly Generous: Some More Evidence

NJ Public Workers' Health Benefits Are NOT Overly Generous: Some More Evidence


Warning: This one's going to get wonky...

The anti-public worker political wing in New Jersey -- which includes nearly all the state's Republicans and the machine Democrats -- spends a good part of its time trying to convince the state's citizens that health care benefits for teachers, cops, and other public workers are way too generous.

You'll hear lots of bemoaning of the "fact" that public worker benefits often fall into the "platinum" level instead of "gold," with no real explanation of what those terms actually mean.* You'll hear that public workers are enjoying a huge advantage in health care while private sector workers get worse care that costs them more.

These analyses leave out a few important details. First, there is a well-documented wage gap for New Jersey teachers and other public workers: when controlling for education, age, time worked, and other factors, these workers earn less than comparable workers in the private sector. Better benefits are an attempt to make up for that wage gap -- an attempt that generally fails, but an attempt nonetheless.

Second, when comparing health benefits, we should take into account three things:


  1. What is covered.
  2. Where enrollees can seek services.
  3. How much they contribute to pay for their premiums.
Balancing these three factors to determine the total generosity of a health care plan is tricky, and the data we have on private health care plans isn't great. Further, we must make an appropriate comparison: looking at a teacher with a masters degree's benefits and comparing them to a part-time worker with only a high school diploma is not a valid comparison, because the workers aren't being drawn from the same labor pool.

This said, it is instructive to look at how one of the factors above -- employee contributions CONTINUE READING: Jersey Jazzman: NJ Public Workers' Health Benefits Are NOT Overly Generous: Some More Evidence

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