HDHPs, vision care and same-sex healthcare benefits up in higher ed
- A College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR’s) analysis of healthcare benefits in higher education found that one-third of institutions cover part-time staff and adjunct faculty. The Survey of Higher Education Employee Healthcare Benefits collects data from a cross section of U.S. colleges and universities.
- The study also found that high deductible health plans (HDHPs) are more popular now in colleges and universities; nearly two-thirds offer HDHPs, up 16% since 2015. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) remain the most popular of healthcare plans in academia.
- Academia is ahead of the private sector in covering both opposite- and same-sex partners. Healthcare benefits for opposite-sex partners rose by 50% in 2017, and those for same-sex partners rose by 75% in 2017.
Benefits trends in colleges and universities appear to be following those in the private sector, especially with the growing popularity of HDHPs and more stand-alone vision care plans. According to the CUPA-HR study, higher healthcare costs, a larger older population and vision problems caused by computer work are driving the two-thirds rise in vision care plans.
While different institutions will have varying budgets or endowments, colleges are also a unique microcosm of both long-term, tenured employment and hourly adjunct employment. How they cope with healthcare between both groups is an interesting examination of how employers of all types must handle healthcare policy.
As healthcare costs continue to increase — and Congress continues to stall on any meaningful reform of the Affordable Care Act — employers are largely left to their own devices to maneuver around healthcare prices. For a while, employers tried to push more of the cost burden onto employees while also educating those employees on becoming better consumers. But ultimately, if costs continue to go up for both sides, employers may have to pioneer a new system altogether.