The Corner

Harvard Faculty Revolts Over Obamacare Cost Increases

Harvard faculty members are apoplectic over changes to their university-provided health-care plans related to Obamacare — after Harvard researchers spent years promoting the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times reports that faculty members voted unanimously in November to oppose a slight increase in out-of-pocket costs Harvard proposed for the plans. The university administration cited the need to confront the “added costs” caused by Obamacare provisions. Despite the protests, the university enacted the increase in January.

That hasn’t stopped faculty from waxing apocalyptic about the change. “Deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university” is how classics professor Richard Thomas described it. “It’s equivalent to taxing the sick,” said economics professor Jerry Green. “I don’t think there’s any government in the world that would tax the sick.”

“It seems that Harvard is trying to save money shifting costs to sick people,” said sociology professor Mary Waters. “I don’t understand why a university with Harvard’s incredible resources would do this. What is the crisis?”  

The relatively minor changes to the plan would see Harvard faculty paying a slightly larger, but still small deductible, along with around 10 percent of service costs, up to an out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 per individual and $4,500 for family.

Paying both a deductible and a small amount in what’s called coinsurance is quite common across employer-provided health plans, but the idea was vilified by in an op-ed penned by eleven Harvard professors for the school paper. Administrators cited a famous health-insurance study to defend increasing out-of-pocket contributions, but the eleven professors contend the evidence is outdated and not applicable to the lifestyle choices of Harvard faculty.

Not only is cost-sharing a common and growing part of most employer plans, it’s also a key part of plans offered on the Obamacare exchanges. So-called “bronze” health-care plans provided through the exchanges see co-insurance costs of 20 percent or more, along

with deductibles reaching into the thousands of dollars. The deductible for a Harvard professor’s family will still be no more than $750.

To their credit, Harvard’s health-care researchers, some of whom were involved in the design of various health-care reforms, aren’t buying their colleagues’ complaints.

“Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” Harvard health economist David Cutler told the times, noting that the university’s professors have long avoided the cost increases plaguing most other American workers. “Harvard was and remains a very generous employer.”

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More


Dear Reader (Especially everyone who got ripped off ordering that giant blimp online), Imagine an alien race that built its civilization on the fact it literally defecated highly refined uranium, or super-intelligent and obedient nano-bots, or simply extremely useful Swiss Army knives. Now imagine one of ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More

‘The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red Again’

One of President Trump’s outstanding appointments has been Dan Coats, his director of national intelligence. Coats is a former House member, former senator, and former ambassador to Germany. He is a Hoosier (i.e., from Indiana). Whether he plays basketball, I don’t know. At Wheaton College, he played soccer. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Rise of the Abortion Cheerleaders

Is abortion a sad and unfortunate reality — regrettable, as we are sometimes told, but often necessary — or is it a breezy nothingburger, completely “normal,” and something to be giddily celebrated like a last-minute NFL touchdown?  For a long time, the abortion lobby has had difficulty deciding. This ... Read More