Harvard’s low-income workers deserve affordable health insurance

There is an outbreak of a hidden epidemic – health insurance based on the employer out of reach, especially for low-wage workers income – at Harvard, a place should never happen.

As medical students at Harvard, who were very concerned to learn that our university changes proposed in the health plans of restaurant workers that would make essential health care unaffordable. After months of negotiation, the workers’ union voted to dining authorize a strike that release on Wednesday if an agreement is not reached. The campus has coalesced around workers, circulating a petition supporting signed by 2,500 students, including us, before the federal mediation held earlier this week.

In the struggle of workers dining with Harvard, we see a microcosm of the current challenges for health insurance across America.

The article continues after the announcement

Affordability of health insurance plans boils down to two factors: premiums and out of pocket costs. How affordable are employer plans? A team of Harvard medical students compared the plan Harvard proposed for dining workers to what would be available in the healthcare market of Massachusetts. (State Exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, to facilitate the purchase of health insurance for individuals and families.)

For a family of three with an income of $ 30,000, plan Harvard requires an employee to contribute a premium of $ 233 a month, while the change health plans that require No premium at all . faculty of Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization defined health spending no more than 10 percent of annual income as catastrophic expenditures . Harvard’s plan comes dangerously close to this with their own premiums. The cherry on top? Harvard’s plan also has higher copayments plans change.

It is surprising that these low-income workers would be better off if they were not offered one employer-sponsored insurance.

This may seem confusing. After all, change plans have been I lambasted by their high costs . But the sad reality is that the situation is worse among the plans provided by the employer. A recent Urban Institute study showed that total premiums were lower in plans change in plans provided by the employer in more than 80 percent of major US markets. In Boston, premiums change plans was 35 percent less expensive than employer plans. The gap would probably be even higher for low-income workers, who would be eligible for subsidies more robust plans change.

Why employer plans are so expensive? Frankly, health is expensive. Rising prices of prescription drugs, along with the consolidation of hospital systems have made deep-rooted problems driving costs eaters struggle Harvard workers much more difficult to address. There are no magic bullet solutions. And when promising policy options are in the works, overall progress is likely to be gradual.

Meanwhile, we face a key question: Who should bear the burden of health care costs high

The answer may be a matter of life or death. baseline studies as Experiment RAND Health Insurance have shown that increased out of pocket costs can jeopardize health outcomes, not to mention financial stability. For some people, higher out of pocket costs to reduce the use of health care so as not to affect health outcomes. For the poorest and the sickest, however, the additional costs cause some people forgo essential medical services, leading to poor control of chronic health problems and increased risk of death.

Harvard proposal for their messes workers threatens to widen health disparities along lines of race and class. Many of the workers dining are immigrants, more than half identify themselves as people of color, and nearly half earn less than $ 35,000, considered insufficient to support more than one person in Boston according to the calculator living wage salary MIT . Some workers, such as Anabela Pappas, a veteran of 33 years at Harvard University, who already have difficulty managing chronic conditions such as type 1 diabetes with a limited income. Rising health care costs for families at risk like yours only worsens existing inequalities in our system.

Innovation in health care is more likely to occur when large companies, rather than low-income workers, feel the burden of health costs. Institutions like Harvard have enormous untapped power to implement innovative programs health systems and pressure to make much needed reforms. Now is the time for our university to take the ideas generated by their economists and health policy researchers, like safe design based on the value of and implement them for members of their community.

Not all creative intervention will work. But just moving beyond the status quo we will learn new ideas, which has real benefits. Simply making poor families to pay more for essential services, such as insulin prescriptions and hospital admissions is an unacceptable excuse.

As doctors in training, who can not stand by the forces of the richest university in the world to its most vulnerable to choose between dinner and visit a medical employees. Harvard can do better, and this “best” can have a domino effect on other unions, other universities and workplaces across the country. Employers like Harvard University has to pursue real innovation, not simply to balance their budgets on the backs of those who can least afford it -. And less likely to survive it

Micah Johnson and Sanjay Kishore are sophomores of Harvard Medical School.

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