Faculty Fringe Benefits and Welfare Committee
Annual Report, 2002-2003

The Faculty Fringe Benefits and Welfare Committee (FFBWC) and the Employee Benefits Committee (EBC), an administrative committee, met jointly 8 times during the 2002-2003 academic year.  As requested by the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 FFBWC, the Dean named all members of the FFBWC as faculty representatives to the EBC in an effort to streamline the work of both committees given that many fringe benefit issues impact both faculty and staff.  We believe that this relationship between the two committees (the Committees) worked well again this year, and recommend that this practice is continued to reduce unnecessary duplication of efforts.  The FFBWC met separately from the EBC one time during the year as discussed below.

The main activities of the Committees during the year consisted of the following:
1.  The Committees conducted the annual review of medical, dental and life insurance during Fall 2002 in preparation for the January 1 renewal.  The initial quote from CIGNA for the medical insurance policy renewal reflected an increase of 18% over the 2002 rate.  To insure that this represented a competitive price and that Cigna was comparable or superior to other carriers in terms of service, claim processing, case management and healthcare network, the Committees determined that they would enter into a bid process for the 2003 renewal.  During this process, the Committees reviewed five proposals and interviewed three finalists.  

The key criteria used to evaluate the various carriers were customer service, doctor and hospital networks, and cost.  Additionally, the Committees considered the disruptive impact that a change in carriers would have on our employees.  The Committees recommended that Furman stay with Cigna for a variety of reasons as outlined in the open enrollment memo provided to all employees during the renewal period.

Even with the positive impact of the competitive bid process, because of rising healthcare costs renewal premiums based on the current coverage would have reflected a 9% increase.  In light of this, the Committees evaluated various “what-if” scenarios to identify plan changes that would significantly reduce premium costs while not significantly reducing coverage levels.  After considering various scenarios, the Committees determined that the best way to reduce the premium increase was to increase calendar year deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum amounts.  As a result of these changes the overall premium increase was reduced to about 5%.
Premium rates and coverage quoted by Cigna for both dental and life insurance remained unchanged from 2002-2003, so the Committees did not recommend any changes.

2. At the October 14, 2002 faculty meeting it was announced that, in the spring of 2003, the FFBWC planned to participate in a review of overall employee benefits.  Such review would include looking at five-year benefit cost projections and reviewing alternatives and “what if” scenarios to determine the best level of benefits for the most reasonable cost.  In March 2003, the Committees met to discuss this project.  The discussions included committee meetings with the Committees, the FFBWC alone and conversations by the FFBWC Chair with Dan Sloughter (Chair of AAUP).

Although the Committees did tentatively decide to participate in the review process after the initial series of meetings, they ultimately did not for several reasons: there was limited meeting time available to complete the project by the end of the school year, a majority of the FFBWC would be rotating off at the end of the school year, and there are no plans to change benefits next year.  Based on these factors, Susan Zeiger decided it would be best to work with the new Committees regarding preparing a benefit educational package and determining the appropriate approach for a review of the benefits.

The FFBWC thanks Susan Zeiger and Giselle Williams for their invaluable guidance and diligent work on behalf of the Committees. The FFBWC is also appreciative of the EBC members Todd Duke, Ray Kuhne, Wendy Libby, and Kathryn Smoke for their diligent work.  The chair extends thanks to FFBWC members Timothy Fehler, Bob Fray, Nelly Hecker, Robin Visel, and Wade Worthen for their hard work this year.

Respectfully submitted,
Sandy Roberson, Chair

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