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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Employer-based health insurance isn’t a monolith — the cost and generosity of that coverage varies widely. And that likely affects how open workers would be to “Medicare for All” or a public insurance option.

The big picture: Democrats’ health care plans would offer a better deal to many low-wage workers than to their higher-wage counterparts.

By the numbers: The Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual survey of employer health benefits illustrates this divide.

  • Roughly 36 million American workers earn $25,000 per year or less — retail workers, personal care attendants, warehouse workers and many more.
  • Just 33% of workers at lower-wage firms offering health benefits are covered by their employer’s health benefits, well below the 63% share at other firms offering coverage.
  • These low-wage workers pay an average of $7,000 per year just toward the premium for a family plan.
  • Workers in low-wage firms also face much higher deductibles: a $2,679 annual single deductible, while at other firms, the average is $1,610.

The bottom line: There is no way to gild this lily — that is the definition of unaffordable. And family coverage isn’t even available to these workers much of the time.

  • Whether low-wage workers ultimately support Democrats’ health care plans is still a matter of personal preference — whether resistance to change or distrust in the government outweigh the financial burdens of health insurance.
  • But either “Medicare for All” or a public option would offer much better coverage than these workers have now.

On the other end of the spectrum are workers with very good coverage — including those with union-negotiated contracts and even, at some higher-wage firms, workers who don’t have to make a premium contribution at all.

  • But as study after study documents, these workers also struggle with their out-of-pocket costs, especially when they or their family members become ill.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.