Everyone Pays More

Survey on health benefits finds expenses going up for colleges, some of which are passing them on to employees. Another key finding is expansion of partner benefits.

July 6, 2015

Colleges are, on average, paying more for health benefits coverage for employees. And some of those colleges are passing some expenses on to employees.

Those are among the key findings of a survey being released today by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

One in five colleges, the survey found, are passing on some of the higher costs associated with the Affordable Care Act in at least one of the following ways:

  • Increased in-network deductibles.
  • Increased out-of-pocket limits.
  • Increased employees’ share of dependent coverage costs.
  • Increased employees’ share of premium costs.

And of course, while not referenced in the CUPA-HR report summary, many colleges responded to the Affordable Care Act by limiting the sections given to adjuncts, costing them significant loss of income.

The most popular form of health plan offered by the 525 institutions surveyed (across all sectors) is a PPO, or preferred provider organization. Just under 90 percent of institutions offer a PPO option. High-deductible health plans -- offered by 46 percent of colleges -- are going up substantially in popularity with institutions. That option was offered by just 17 percent of institutions in 2009.

The average annual total premium for all four plan types combined -- PPO, health maintenance organizations (HMO), point of service (POS) and high-deductible health plans -- was $6,597 for employee-only coverage and $18,087 for employee plus family coverage. Increases varied by plan type. For employee-only coverage, the largest increase was 4 percent. For employee and family plans, the largest increase was 6 percent.

Same-Sex Partner Coverage

With the recent Supreme Court decision, college employees nationwide may marry same-sex partners and thus (at most institutions) receive health benefits. But prior to the push for same-sex marriage rights, many colleges focused on offering domestic partner benefits so that their gay and lesbian employees' partners could have health insurance.

The CUPA-HR survey shows significant progress in meeting that goal. Seventy percent of institutions in the survey reported that they offer health care coverage to same-sex domestic partners or spouses. That is up from 40 percent in 2006. Some of the increase is due to same-sex marriage being adopted in various states, while some of the increase is due to college-specific domestic partner programs.

Full results of the survey are available for colleges to purchase from CUPA-HR.


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