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July 2015

The Veiled Economics of Employee Cost Sharing

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard Kennedy School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(7):1081-1082. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1109

This year, once again, millions of people in the United States who get health insurance through their employers received the unwelcome news that cost sharing would increase. Harvard University, where both of us work and get our health insurance, increased cost-sharing for its employees, raising a hue and cry from faculty.1 There were charges that the changes were regressive and particularly harmful for lower-wage employees.1 The critiques implicitly presumed that it is possible to have high wages, lower premiums, and no cost sharing. But this presumption misses the fundamental economic connections between wages, premiums, and cost sharing.

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