Harvard’s professors championed Obamacare. What happened next was hilarious

Can’t … breathe … too … much … laughter … (from the New York Times):

“For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

“Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.”

Alas, the professors’ absolute shock at finding the Affordable Care Act something less than affordable came too late to stave off a financial hit this year.

The irony — and the schadenfreude — is deep with this one. Consider that Harvard, according to one health economist on faculty who advised Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and was quoted by the Times, “was and remains a very generous employer” that nonetheless is forced to raise premiums to pay for new “free” benefits, such as preventative services and the ability for employees to keep their adult children on their insurance until age 26. And that’s not even counting the “Cadillac tax” on plans Washington deems overly generous, which doesn’t take effect until 2018 and could well produce a reaction not seen since the great toilet paper controversy of the 1990s.

(Harvard learns about Obamacare changes.)

The Times’ broad description of this plan — which another Harvard professor dubbed “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university” — will seem familiar to pretty much any American who can’t afford to send his kid to Harvard:

“Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.”

Obamacare: A law supposedly for the benefit of the common people, at the behest of ivory-tower types who apparently now have to look up the definitions of “deductible” and “coinsurance.” If there’s a better one-lie description for the law, I haven’t seen it. William F. Buckley, and the first 400 names in the Boston phone book, should demand a recount.

Now let’s go quickly through some of the other instructive quotes from the story:

  • “Mary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut. ‘Moreover,’ she said, ‘this pay cut will be timed to come at precisely the moment when you are sick, stressed or facing the challenges of being a new parent.'” NB: If you refer to the requirement to pay for a service as a “pay cut,” modern France is precisely the right field of study for you.
  • “‘It’s equivalent to taxing the sick,’ (economics) Professor (Jerry R.) Green said. ‘I don’t think there’s any government in the world that would tax the sick.'” No government, dear economics professor, except all the governments that tax middle-income workers at higher rates than our highest earners pay, in order to provide them with “free” health care.
  • “‘It seems that Harvard is trying to save money by shifting costs to sick people,’ said Mary C. Waters, a professor of sociology. ‘I don’t understand why a university with Harvard’s incredible resources would do this. What is the crisis?'” File this under “things you should have considered before shouting ‘there’s a crisis’ and demanding the government ‘do something’ that would affect employer-based insurance, including yours.”

It’s as if Obamacare isn’t getting more popular the more we get to know it.

Closing question: Who knew, back when Jonathan Gruber talked about “stupid” voters falling for Obamacare, it was really just a subtle attack in the MIT-Harvard rivalry?

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
MANGLER
MANGLER

So 5 professors out of what, 2,500 are complaining?

Are these even the same professors who advised the POTUS?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MANGLER Read the story. The faculty "voted overwhelmingly" to oppose the changes.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

So the costs of health care dropping because AmeRicans are forgoing it and risking severe illness is something for the proggies to be proud of!

lvg
lvg

@IReportYouWhine -great cost savings in all those rural areas in Georgia where hospitals are closing due to Reagancare and Deal's refusal to accept federal funds. That what an unfunded mandate accomplishes.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@notagain

" I see medicaid patients getting the same care I get."


You cannot sink much lower than that.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

The anti-intellectualism is strong with this one.

Joel Edge
Joel Edge

Those quotes are precious. What a self-centered bunch.

lvg
lvg

Not reported here:

"""Early signs suggest that US president Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is driving the cost of healthcare lower, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, spotlighting yesterday’s data on consumer spending and prices.

“Cuts to Medicare payments that were used to finance some of the new benefits under the law have resulted in significant slowing in the health-related components of the PCE price index,” wrote Goldman analysts in a note to clients."" 

and 

"In other words, early indications that the Affordable Care Act is starting to control health care inflation is a good thing.""

http://qz.com/183812/yes-obamacare-is-driving-us-health-care-costs-lower/


Could eliminating Cadillac plans  like Harvard's  be a factor? 

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

"Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.”


OK, so let me get this straight...these people are getting their panties in a wad over a measly $250/$750 deductible, a whopping for $20 doctor's office visits, and paying 10% of the cost of their healthcare until they hit an out-of-pocket cost of $1,500/$4,500??!?


O the horror!!!!!!!


I suppose then they'd really have a coronary when they have to pay 100% of everything until their out-of-pocket cost hits $3,500/$7,500, like some of us living in the real world.

notagain
notagain

Obama's for keeping the enhanced pay.

I see medicaid patients getting the same care I get.Plus lots of medical samples.I told my Dr. he was giving to wrong people.The medicare people have to pay total cost for their drugs.On some drugs pass the drug test.

lvg
lvg

Another  totally misleading article once again by Kyle  about Obamacare.


Harvard professors are reacting to the "Cadillac tax" designed to hold down health care costs by making insureds pay part of the cost of  unnecessary medical procedures. The theory is based on market studies of people who buy expensive items only when other people pay. This is based on observations of Thomas Friedman.



"""The culprit is the "Cadillac Tax," the hefty excise tax on high-cost plans.  The purpose of that tax is to hold down health-care costs, by making it much more expensive for employers to offer the kind of gold-plated benefit plans that shield consumers from virtually all the costs of their health-care decisions. 

The economic logic is impeccable."""" 

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-01-05/whining-harvard-professors-discover-obamacare

 . 

MarkVV
MarkVV

The main point here is that Kyle has not scored any point at all. All that he has presented is a little spiteful snickering about Harvard professors. Like others who disparage Obamacare, he has ignored the fact of rapidly rising health costs before ACA. Someone naïve about politics might recall some promises about lowering those costs, ignoring two facts – that the pricing is still in the hand of private insurers, not the administration, and that the main purpose of ACA was and is to expand the number of insured Americans.


When Kyle lists some of the reasons for the raised premiums at Harvard as “preventative services and the ability for employees to keep their adult children on their insurance until age 26,” he should tell us openly if those are benefits he opposes, and if not, whether he expects them to cost nothing.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Well that's just SICK!

Then again, so are liberals in their thinking or lack thereof.

SCHNIRT!

The Hahvahd bunch just got dumped into the real world.

Tallyho! The fox has been spotted. 

otherview
otherview

Those policies are one of the reasons health care costs were skyrocketing.  Basically free healthcare creates unnecessary demand. Like the guy who goes to the doc complaining about a sore back & says "well, yeah I did a lot of yard work yesterday".  You can be sure he's got a Harvard style policy.

lvg
lvg

Kyle is proud that we live in a state that refuses federal Medicaid funds and instead lets people go without decent hospital care because hospitals are closing. I guess Reagancare doesn't work that well with no funding source other than those that  are insured or can afford to pay. 

All part of Deal's race to the bottom in education, unemployment, transportation, voting rights, and health care.

Apparently the voters like the results. 

Juanx
Juanx

@lvg  ....and, of the 13 hospitals that closed 7 of them voted the Republican ticket in 2014. Go figure.

straker
straker

Rafe - "those socialists"


Actually, they call themselves Democrats.


Maybe you should contact each of them and correct their error. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, oops, well maybe not.  So, if you lost your plan, it was because it was a junk policy not in compliance with the new stringent standards required by the ACA, well not exactly again.   You're going to save $2500 per year, oops, well maybe not.


Good column Kyle, love to see the Grubered folks get their comeuppance.


Those socialists just love to help the poor masses with other folks money, but oops, this time it was their money.  Oh--the humanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

The problem of course is how you roll back - take back - the entitlements bestowed by Democrats?


An even bigger question, what does medicaid do, exactly? How about Schip? All these fat, budget busting government programs that have been piled on us over the years? I remember Schip covering all the health care costs of people making $80,000 a year. Why do we even need obamacare? Honestly, it seems to me that the people that "have insurance for the first time," are receiving full subsidies and would be considered "hardship" cases if you took it from them now, should have been eligible for medicaid in the first place.


Is this just another government shell game?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@IReportYouWhine

Yes, yes it is.

The same people who paid for their own health care and the health care of people who couldn't manage that feat on their own are still doing all the paying.

And the people who weren't paying before still aren't.

GMFA
GMFA

If it was good enough for Romney it will be good enough for the Country. I am not sure why someone who implies that they are Patriotic can be against Health Care for all. If the the PUBS have a better plan let them put it on the table.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@GMFA

You're for "health care for all"?

How much have you donated to charity to make that a reality?  The answer will tell us a lot about how deep your support is.

straker
straker

Don't worry, Kyle.


Since every Republican who ran for election or re-election PROMISED to repeal Obamacare, they MUST do so or explain to their electorate why that promise was not fulfilled.


So, one way or another, just as the anti-abortion folks are taking Roe vs Wade apart, they will do the same to Obamacare.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

So, evidently, costs that were previously covered BY THE SCHOOL will now be covered BY THE EMPLOYEES. 


This is not due to ObamaCare (or ACA), it is due to the school doing what almost every other employer has been doing for years.  They are moving costs to employees to boost the bottom line. 


Trying to blame this on ObamaCare is laughable, as it's been happening for years before ObamaCare even came around. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude Nope. Check the NYT story at the link, including this key paragraph:

"In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven byhealth care reform,” otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax."

Claver
Claver

@Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude Because employers never try to pass the buck when they want to cut salaries or benefits. And there was no national trend of rising health care costs before Obamacare.

SwamiDave
SwamiDave

Since Harvard is simply implementing a cost-sharing model @Claver, that would not be a "cut" to salaries or benefits.  As is typically the case, the costs to Harvard are increasing to the point that even with the cost-sharing, their expenditures are still rising.  In none of these types of cases will an employer end up spending less than they did before.  They are simply sharing the increases with the employees (just like the rest of us).


Likewise, addition of children to 26 and added mandatory coverages would only expand any increases in costs above what they would have been under existing trends.  Yes, health insurance costs have trended upward; mandating expansions to the policies only exacerbates that.  For those who believed Gruber & aren't good in math, that means Obamacare would be raising costs to consumers (like Harvard employees) even higher than they would have been without it. 


I agree @Kyle_Wingfield - It's pretty funny to hear Liberals whining when the consequences of their stupid philosophy ends up on their backs.  Bottle the tears! @LogicalDude

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Short of all out war in the Republican ranks, the next president will be Republican.

That means Obamacare in its present form has no chance of surviving even if SCOTUS does not kill it.

The problem of course is how you roll back - take back - the entitlements bestowed by Democrats?

What will healthcare insurance look like once the Dems mess is fixed the best it can be?

The single payer dreamers need to awake, it's not gonna happen and they must face the mess they have created in trying to do so. 

Claver
Claver

@JohnnyReb I don't think the case before SCOTUS is one that will kill Obamacare.  It is one, however, that could hurt middle class voters in a lot of Republican states and, potential, hurt the Republican party.  A majority of the states that did not create their own exchanges are Republican states.  If the Court rules that only residents of states that have their own exchanges can get the subsidies, then the Democratic states that have not already done so will do it asap - probably with a simple agreement to "rent" capacity on the existing federal exchange.  That will leave the Republican states in a quandary. If they also create an exchange, some of their base will have a fit.  If they don't, others members of their base, as well as a lot of independents, will be among the ones losing their subsides.  So, who are those voters going to blame when they lose their subsidy?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The far Left want Elizabeth Warren as their next candidate.

She is cut from the same cloth as the complaining professors.

That speaks volumes, but unfortunately is over the head of too many low information voters.

MarkVV
MarkVV

Harvard professors’ reaction to  the cost of health insurance certainly is a fair game for making some fun. Hardly a weapon against Obamacare, however, even with that claim that “the increases are IN PART a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act” (my emphasis).

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

"Who knew, back when Jonathan Gruber talked about “stupid” voters falling for Obamacare,"


How 'bout 'dem stooopid voters who went for Romneycare?  Where's all the hee-haws about them?  Oh wait!!  NOW I remember!!


Romneycare=Obamacare/Partisian hackery!!  Got it!!  (RC equals OC divided by PH or BS -- whichever is more PC)


DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

"Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.”


"Obamacare: A law supposedly for the benefit of the common people, at the behest of ivory-tower types who apparently now have to look up the definitions of “deductible” and “coinsurance.” If there’s a better one-lie description for the law, I haven’t seen it. William F. Buckley, and the first 400 names in the Boston phone book, should demand a recount.


Ironically Kyle, I pay MORE and I have insurance from my employer!  Amazing ain't it?  (eyes:rolling)