Some of the nation’s most foremost authorities on health economics and policy learned a painful – and ironic – lesson about their respective area of expertise recently when they were forced to pay more for their health care in 2015.

But even with these higher expenses, they’re still receiving far more generous benefits than plans sold on the public exchanges: 91% percent of the cost of services, in fact, vs. 70% of the actuarial value of popular silver-plated HIX coverage.

Members of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences had staunchly opposed the move, which came in response to key components of the Affordable Care Act, which many professors at the 378-year-old Ivy League school supported. The uproar was detailed in an article published by The New York Times.

Also see: Lavish ‘Cadillac’ health plans dying out as ACA tax looms

Perhaps David M. Cutler, a Harvard health economist who advised President Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, summed it up best when he suggested to the newspaper that “Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country.” He added that the university still “remains a very generous employer.”

Harvard employees, who were accustomed to paying only a portion of their monthly insurance premiums and low out-of-pocket costs, now must pay an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for family coverage, according to the article. In addition, there’s a $20 co-payment for each doctor’s office visit and 10% charge up to out-of-pocket maximums of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.

The New York Times reported that Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015 justified the higher costs by suggested they were associated with ACA provisions related to coverage extensions for children up to age 26, free preventive services and the so-called Cadillac tax on high-end plans expected to take effect in 2018.

Also see: IRS offers guidance on ACA tax on Cadillac health plans

Some of Cutler’s colleagues weren’t pleased with the changes. They included Richard F. Thomas, a professor of classics who described them as “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university,” as well as Mary D. Lewis, a history professor who compared them to a pay cut.

While Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust acknowledged these complaints, she noted that the university’s health care tab was “growing faster than operating revenues or staff salaries and were threatening the budget for other priorities like teaching, research and student aid,” according to the article.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access