Harvard faculty who advised on healthcare reform upset with coverage

Harvard University's health economists and policy experts--who have advised presidents and Congress on healthcare reform--are less than pleased to see the cost of their health insurance increase, reported the New York Times.

The university's 2015 healthcare enrollment guide notes that Harvard "must respond to the national trend of rising healthcare costs, including some driven by healthcare reform," according to the Times.

Harvard now requires faculty to pay more out-of-pocket expenses, following the ongoing trend in employer-sponsored insurance as of late, noted the Washington Post. 

Harvard faculty now pay deductibles and coinsurance for hospitalization, surgery and other tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. These changes, as noted by Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor, are "deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of corporatization of the university," according to the Times.

What's more, Jerry R. Green, a professor economics, told the Times that the new out-of-pocket costs could cause people to forgo medical care or tests, ultimately causing more serious illnesses.

At the same time, Harvard's economists and public policy experts have acknowledged that the exact cost-sharing measures the university is taking have been proven to lower overall healthcare costs.

Plus, as the Post notes, Harvard employees still have it fairly good. Harvard's coverage pays about 91 percent of medical costs, which aligns with the richest Affordable Care Act platinum plans. Harvard caps annual out-of-pocket payments at $1,500 for an individual, while the ACA caps such payments at $6,600.

Other Harvard faculty members see this change as inevitable. "The changes in Harvard faculty benefits are parallel to changes that all Americans are seeing," Meredith B. Rosenthal, a professor of health economics, told the Times. "Indeed, they have come to our front door much later than to others."

To put Harvard's situation into perspective: For Americans enrolled for a full 12 months in ACA plans, more than one in five spend 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, not including premiums, and 13 percent spend 10 percent or more, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the Times article
- read The Post story