Friday, November 14, 2014

Health Benefits Fight at Harvard

Inside Higher Ed
November 14th, 2014

Lots of colleges and universities have recently made changes to employee health care benefits, and some have encountered strong opposition from the faculty -- most notoriously at Pennsylvania State University, which tried to fine employees for not completing annual screenings with personal questions about mental health and family planning. Most of the Penn State plan was abandoned amid faculty outcry, but key components remained; there, and in most cases, administrators have said at least some benefits changes are necessary, pointing to ballooning health care costs, concerns about complying with the Affordable Care Act, and budget woes. But what about the wealthiest institution in the world? Does it really have to overhaul the benefits it offers faculty? That’s what professors at Harvard University are asking – and protesting.
Last week, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences – its most powerful faculty, according to the university’s governance structure – voted unanimously to ask President Draw Faust and the Harvard Corporation to halt planned changes to non-unionized employee benefits, including the introduction of coinsurance. Starting in January, faculty and non-unionized staff will have to shoulder annual deductibles of $250 per person, or $750 per family, and coinsurance for up to 10 percent of costs for hospital stays and other non-routine care. The annual out-of-pocket maximum is $1,500 for individuals and $4,500 for families.

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