Higher ed employees sharing more of the cost for healthcare

Stefanie Botelho's picture

As a result of changes to healthcare benefits stemming from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and in an effort to better control costs, many higher education institutions are passing more of the cost of healthcare along to their employees.

According to findings from CUPA-HR’s 2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey, 41 percent of respondents have increased the employee share of premium costs since the ACA went into effect. Additionally, 26 percent have increased in-network deductibles, 27 percent have increased out-of-pocket limits, 20 percent have increased the employee share of prescription drug costs, and 24 percent have increased the employee share of dependent coverage costs. Many institutions are also ramping up their efforts to encourage healthy living among employees, with 36 percent of respondents indicating they have adopted or expanded a wellness program and 21 percent saying they have adopted or expanded the use of financial incentives to encourage healthy behaviors.

In other ACA-related findings, respondents reported that 50 percent of their part-time staff and 80 percent of their part-time faculty work less than 30 hours a week (the ACA mandates that employers must offer healthcare coverage to any employee working 30 or more hours per week, although this portion of the Act has yet to take effect). Sixty-two percent of respondents reported that they are using or plan to use the guidance provided by the IRS on February 11, 2014, regarding a reasonable method for calculating adjunct work.

Cost of Healthcare Benefits

The annual total premium for all four plan types combined — preferred provider organizations (PPO), health maintenance organizations (HMO), point of service (POS) and high deductible health plans (HDHP) — was $6,501 for employee-only coverage and $17,484 for employee+family coverage. The average percent change in total premium costs from 2013 to 2014 for the four types of plans combined was 5.5 percent for employee-only coverage and 5.25 percent for employee+family coverage.

Other Findings of Note

Other findings from this year’s benefits survey:

· PPO plans continue to be the plan of choice for a majority of institutions – 82 percent of respondents offer PPO plans. However, HDHPs continue to increase in popularity, with 44 percent of respondents offering this type of plan (up from 17 percent in 2009).

· Sixty percent of institutions offer healthcare benefits to same sex domestic partners or spouses (up from 46 percent five years ago).

· A substantial percentage of institutions offer healthcare benefits to part-time staff and faculty (42 percent and 36 percent, respectively), and most of those also pay part of the premium.

· None of the institutions not offering healthcare benefits for part-time employees provide financial support for enrollment in a public exchange, and only 2 percent are considering doing so next year.

· Almost all institutions provide basic life insurance, long-term disability, paid time-off, tuition assistance and retirement benefits. Short-term disability, however, is only offered by 64 percent of the respondents.

For more information on CUPA-HR’s 2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey, or to order results, visit www.cupahr.org/surveys/benefits.aspx.

About the Survey

The 2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey collected detailed data on healthcare and non-healthcare benefits. The healthcare portion of the survey collected data on formal wellness programs, four different types of healthcare plans (PPO, HMO, POS and high deductible plans), prescription drug benefits and dental plans, and addressed both “essential” and “non-essential” health benefits. The non-healthcare portion of the survey covered basic life insurance, short- and long-term disability, paid time off, tuition support and retirement. The survey also addressed the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on healthcare benefits provided by institutions.

About the Survey Respondents

The survey was completed by 370 institutions, including 29 systems reporting in the aggregate for all of their campuses. The survey represents 601 institutions in total. Sixty-four percent of respondents (237) are from private institutions and 36 percent (133) are from public institutions. If the aggregate submissions of the 29 systems are considered, private institutions comprise 44 percent of the total and public institutions comprise 56 percent of the total. Twenty-nine percent of respondents are from master’s institutions, 24 percent are from bachelor’s institutions, and 23 percent are from doctorate institutions. Associate’s and special focus institutions comprise 15 percent and 9 percent of respondents respectively.


CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving more than 17,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 1,900 member organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information. Our membership includes 91 percent of all U.S. doctoral institutions, 77 percent of all master’s institutions, 57 percent of all bachelor’s institutions and 600 community colleges and specialized institutions.