One epidemic rapidly spreading in Harvard’s medical campus is unaffordable employer health insurance for low income workers. This is not only shocking but also surprising to be occurring at Harvard campus, since Harvard faculty contributed to ACA – affordable care act along with World Health Organization.
Medical students were least receptive to this unfortunate news. If there are changes to dining workers’ health plans according to university proposals, these low income workers will no longer be able to afford essential health care. Admittedly, this is a matter of social concern for everybody. Harvard dining workers’ union voted to authorize a strike in case of talks failing to reach a satisfactory deal. It’s good to see that entire campus rallies around workers and has signed a 2,500 student’ strong petition for federal mediation.
Note that Harvard dining workers’ plight represents current challenges for health insurance across America.
All health insurance plans are considered affordable or not base on two main factors: premiums and out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to employer plans, one has to consider what is available on your health exchange. Especially set up State exchanges to dispense ACA – affordable care act or Obamacare make it easier for worker individuals and families to enjoy affordable health insurance coverage. A pertinent question that everyone should be asking is – are current insurance policies helping save money or preventing patients from getting needful treatment.
Harvard plans to make employees with a family of three earning $30,000 contribute premiums of $233 every month. On the other hand, our health exchange require no premiums for their plans. “Any health spending over 10 percent of annual income is a catastrophic expenditure,” according to WHO – world health organization definition. What’s more aggravating is that Harvard expects higher co-pays than exchange plans.
In fact, low income workers are financially better off without such employer based coverage. It is important to note that even exchange plans have come under target for increasing premiums year on year. But the truth is workers are facing even worse situations with employer based plans. Employer based workers health insurance plans contribute premiums in more than 80 per cent of US market place. However, it seems employer plans are proving to be very expensive. Health care itself is expensive. This is the reason why it becomes difficult to address workers’ health insurance cost issues. Even if policy options are being worked out, progress is too slow to make any difference in the near future. So, who will take the responsibility of health care costs?
Any answer to this question is going to have far-reaching effects on life expectancy. RAND Health Insurance Experiment studies indicate out-of-pocket expenditures influence financial stability and health outcomes badly. Only the healthy with no out-of-pocket costs can use health care effectively. However, poor and chronically sick people do not have enough financial resources and must forego essential medical services. As a result, there are increased risks of death due to continuous ill health across the country.
Another major issue highlighted by Harvard dining workers plight is widening health disparities along lines of race and class. Hundreds of thousands of workers are immigrants, people of color and more than half of them ears less than $35,000 – considered inadequate by MIT Living Wage Calculator. Managing chronic ailments on limited incomes is fast becoming impossible. If health insurance costs continue rising, at risk families face life and death situations. This is going to worsen the existing inequities in American health care system
Lack of diversity could well be at the root of the problem. Big employers rather than workers need to take on burden of health care costs. Who can make a difference? Institutions like Harvard have the potential of novel programs to bring about reforms. Harvard economists’ and health policy researchers’’ value-based insurance designs can make significant difference needed for all community members alike.
It is simply unacceptable to expect poor families paying more for essential services like insulin prescriptions and hospital admissions. Harvard physicians in training – all medical students expect Harvard to treat its at-risk low income, dining workers better. Their stand is what will really make a rippling difference throughout unions across the country and other workplaces. Its time employers like Harvard desist from balancing budgets on backs of workers unable to afford costs or survive well.