What do we pay for taxes and health care now, and are we getting enough value for our money?

My friend Christopher McCourt shared his analysis in a Facebook post (and other off-post comments). Chris believes that middle class Americans like him are getting far less in service value than they pay for with the roughly half of their income that goes for taxes and healthcare. He thinks Bernie Sanders’s plans might either save his family money, get them much better healthcare or maybe, do both.

Here’s what Chris says:

I think the scary part is that nobody actually takes a second to think just how much their paycheck is taxed at today, already. Bernie Sanders plan, like Warren’s, is laid out and explained on their websites. But here’s is a fresh takeaway.

Taxes we’re paying currently:

7.65% – FICA (SS)
22% – average fed tax rate for $40-80k salary range
5.5% – average state payroll tax

We (middle class earners) are already paying around 35% on our paychecks and that doesn’t include health care.

Now add in the average cost of insurance. Single payer is $440 a month. So let’s factor in that amount: this is $5280 a year just in premiums. $5,280 of $40,000 (lower end of the average middle class income range) is 13% of your gross income. That’s the amount you pay for insurance premiums!

So now we are at 35%+ 13% + extra medical costs. In other words, middle class earners are all already paying at least 48% of our annual income to taxes and insurance!

Note on extra medical costs: you may get extra bills from doctors who treated you during a hospital visit, who are not considered to be in-network providers.

Let’s compare what we’re paying with how little we get for our money in return. Start with our health care system, which is dismal compared to many other countries’ systems. And, dental and vision coverage are medical services that aren’t typically covered by American healthcare plans, but everyone has need of them. Education is costly and college bills leave many higher ed students in debt for decades, or even for their entire lives. Roadways and other transit infrastructure around the country is in urgent need of repairs and upgrades, but they’re not being done. We face climate and environmental disasters caused by global manufacturing and reckless fossil fuel extraction and transporting. And now, we are facing a national health crisis because essential funding was cut so far we lack the resources to fight the coronavirus effectively. We also still have to figure in municipal and sales taxes.

In my view, each of these are benefits that the United States government has the responsibility to provide (or in the case of healthcare, to require that they be provided) to residents in exchange for the taxes and health insurance premiums we pay.

Here are my sources. I did the lookups quick from my phone, but you can run the numbers many ways and still end up with results very close to mine.


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