Monday, January 05, 2015

Sweeter Than Saccharin

Gallup tells us that government is now the most important problem facing the US, up two places from two years ago and up one place from last year.  And some of the worst policies that that same government imposes on us come from around the Charles River, specifically Harvard.

So it's entertaining to watch Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences get their panties in a bunch over Obamacare, something most of them no doubt supported:
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.

The faculty vote came too late to stop the cost increases from taking effect this month, and the anger on campus remains focused on questions that are agitating many workplaces: How should the burden of health costs be shared by employers and employees? If employees have to bear more of the cost, will they skimp on medically necessary care, curtail the use of less valuable services, or both?

“Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” said David M. Cutler, a health economist at the university who was an adviser to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. But only up to a point: Professors at Harvard have until now generally avoided the higher expenses that other employers have been passing on to employees. That makes the outrage among the faculty remarkable, Mr. Cutler said, because “Harvard was and remains a very generous employer.”
Those "Cadillac health plans" sure are expensive.
Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor of classics and one of the world’s leading authorities on Virgil, called the changes “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.”
I guess that's one way to look at it.  Another way is to consider  a radical concept called "reality".  Evidence:
Michael E. Chernew, a health economist and the chairman of the university benefits committee, which recommended the new approach, acknowledged that “with these changes, employees will often pay more for care at the point of service.” In part, he said, “that is intended because patient cost-sharing is proven to reduce overall spending.”

The president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, acknowledged in a letter to the faculty that the changes in health benefits — though based on recommendations from some of the university’s own health policy experts — were “causing distress” and had “generated anxiety” on campus. But she said the changes were necessary because Harvard’s health benefit costs were growing faster than operating revenues or staff salaries and were threatening the budget for other priorities like teaching, research and student aid.
Despite the increased costs, let's not think that these pour Harvard professors are going to have to rub elbows with mere mortals, looking to find groceries on sale in order to pay for health care:
Harvard’s new plan is far more generous than plans sold on public insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Harvard says its plan pays 91 percent of the cost of services for the covered population, while the most popular plans on the exchanges, known as silver plans, pay 70 percent, on average, reflecting their "actuarial value.”
The hypocrisy on display here is too sweet even for me to enjoy in large servings, but I'm glad these snobs are being forced to live with the consequences of their snobbery.


Ellen K said...

I read this article earlier and laughed and laughed. All the liberals love dangling theories out there without any consideration of the outcomes. Then when it comes back at them, they cry like wounded hyenas. Let Harvard's overcompensated, tenured faculty learn how the rest of us feel.

PeggyU said...

"... patient cost-sharing is proven to reduce overall spending."

No shit, Sherlock! The downside of that is that, in addition to curbing frivolous spending, sometimes people will avoid necessary tests or procedures because they can't afford to pay. I think most people would rather pay for small costs (such as contraception prescriptions and flu shots) out-of-pocket, if it meant better coverage for the unexpected big-ticket items. That's why the whole Sandra Fluck thing is so irritating.

Darren said...

Well, that, and the fact that her name is pronounced "fluke" rather than as it's spelled, which is what she wants to do on the taxpayer's dime. :-)

maxutils said...


Darren said...

Have you heard *her* pronounce it?

maxutils said...


Darren said...

Kinda have way between oo and uh--kinda like some people refer to the top of the house as a rooooof and some as a roof. Her vowel sound is like roof.

maxutils said...,sorry..about..the..annoying..formatting…several..keys..have..died,………,against..logic,that..Obamacare..lowers..rates?$10,200..will..cost..them…,solo,darren?About..$3200/yr

PeggyU said...

I think you are right, Max. It is
Fluke, and she pronounces it "Fluck". I would stick to Flooook if that were my last name.