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3 Trends in Employee Benefits in Higher Ed

Benefits-Cover-blogCUPA-HR recently released results for its 2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey, and the data showed three distinct trends in higher ed employee benefits.

Trend #1 – High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are becoming more common. Many employers have turned to HDHPs (also called consumer-directed health plans) in an effort to curb the cost of healthcare and insurance in their organizations. As for higher ed, data from this year’s benefits survey show that HDHPs are the second most commonly used plan (after PPOs), with 44 percent of institutions surveyed offering this plan type. This is up from 40 percent last year and just 17 percent five years ago.

Trend #2 – More institutions are offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Sixty percent of institutions surveyed this year offer healthcare benefits to same-sex domestic partners or spouses. Last year it was 57 percent, in 2009 it was 46 percent, and in 2006 it was 40 percent. And it would seem that higher ed is well ahead of the curve in this area. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March 2013, among all civilian workers, only 32 percent had access to employer-sponsored healthcare benefits that could be extended to unmarried same-sex partners.

Trend #3 – Higher ed employers are shifting more of the cost of healthcare to employees. Since implementation of (although not necessarily as a direct result of) the Affordable Care Act, many institutions have made changes in their healthcare benefits to help control costs, and many of these changes increase the share employees are asked to pay. Changes include: increasing in-network deductibles (26 percent of respondents); increasing out-of-pocket limits (27 percent); increasing employee share of premium costs (41 percent); increasing employee share of prescription drug costs (20 percent); and increasing employee share of dependent coverage costs (24 percent). And 20 percent or more are planning or considering changes or additional changes in these same areas for 2015.  

 Are you seeing these same trends in your institution? How is your organization working to curb healthcare costs?

For forms and templates, sample policies, how-tos, readings and other resources related to employee benefits, check out the toolkits in the Benefits section of the CUPA-HR Knowledge Center

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