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Harvard professors are angry that their amazing health insurance is getting slightly less generous

Harvard University campus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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The New York Times served up a bit of health-care irony on Monday, writing that Harvard University professors are mad that they'll have to pay more for their health care in 2015 because of Obamacare.

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.

The university is requiring faculty to pay more out of their own pockets for health care, following the trend in employer-sponsored insurance over the past few years. The university cites rising costs from the Affordable Care Act as part of that reason. And as New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait writes, Obamacare opponents took considerable delight Monday that Harvard professors are distraught that they're facing the consequences of the ACA.

But Harvard employees will still have it really, really good compared to the rest of the country. The new employee health plan, according to the Times, comes with annual deductibles of $250 for an individual and $750 for family coverage before the insurance kicks in.

I put together a quick chart to show how Harvard’s new deductibles stack up to typical employer coverage and health plans in new Obamacare exchanges.

Harvard's generous health plan is slowly starting to look like the rest of the country. About four in five employers now require employees to pay out of their own pockets before coverage kicks in, and individual deductibles grew on average from $826 in 2009 to $1,217 in 2014.

The Harvard coverage is still much more generous in a couple of other important ways. It pays about 91 percent of medical costs, on par with the richest platinum plans available on the ACA exchanges. But the Harvard plan will cap annual out-of-pocket payments at $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for family coverage, according to the Times story. The ACA also caps out-of-pocket costs — but at $6,600 for individual plans and $13,200 for family plans.

So, the Times article shows that the Harvard professors aren't thrilled about giving up a small part of a very generous benefit that they've grown accustomed to. In that way, at least, maybe Harvard professors really are just like us.

(Some footnotes on the above chart: The deductible figure for employer-sponsored individual plans comes from the annual Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET survey of employer coverage. The figure for family-sponsored coverage is for workers enrolled in PPO plans with an aggregate deductible for family coverage. Finally, the exchange figures come from a Health Pocket analysis of 2014 “silver level” health plans, which cover about 70 percent of medical costs and are the most popular plans offered on Obamacare exchanges.)