SOME RECOVERY. Brad Plumer, wielding a fearsome EPI study, does a nice job debunking the claim that stagnating wages are merely the inevitable effect of rising health costs. As he notes, between 2004 and 2005 the bottom 20 percent saw their wages drop nearly 2%, but only 24% of this quintile receives employer-based health care. Had health costs leapt up 39%, they might be the explanation. Instead, they went up 9.2%, and likely less for these folks, who tend to receive substandard benefits.