Faculty Fringe Benefits and Welfare Committee
Annual Report, 2004-2005
The Faculty Fringe Benefits and Welfare Committee (FFBWC) met seven times during the 2004-2005 academic year, three of those meetings were held jointly with the Employee Benefits Committee (EBC), an administrative committee chaired by Susan Zeiger.
The main activities of the Committees during the year consisted of the following:
1. The FFBWC and the EBC met once in the Fall to discuss adding a debit card option for our Flexible Spending Accounts. We did not see enough potential benefit to justify the added costs and potential confusion over certain procedures at this time.
2. The Committee focused in the Fall on our annual review of medical, dental and life insurance in preparation for the 1 January 2005 renewal. Because of the structural change made in our health insurance plan last year (eliminating the High Plan and enhancing the Core Plan), CIGNA’s initial quote for the medical insurance policy renewal reflected a lower rate of increase than in past years. The Committees (FFBWC and EBC) considered several potential options to try to reduce the anticipated increases while remaining committed to maximize the fairness, balance, affordability, and long-term stability of Furman's health insurance benefits. The committee recommended no changes in deductibles or co-payment structure; there was a 6-8% increase in employee premiums. Cigna added a medical management tool called Personal Health Solutions (PHS) to our coverage (we selected this from one of a couple required additions to all renewals). The Committee discussed this addition and the potential for Cigna’s meddling in individual health care situations. We decided to go with the PHS version, which includes on-line and phone access to health information as well as inpatient review and case management, and the Committee will look closely at the implementation of the plan in next year’s renewal process.
3. In Winter 2005 the Committee reviewed four policies. (Three of which had been reviewed last year and were now forwarded back to us by FSC.)
(a) Policy 157.93 (Retirement Options) includes proposed new language which is added to provide a minimum standard for assistance with health insurance coverage in early retirement. The language in the faculty policy was added because the administration was to announce a new policy for staff that provides up to two years of medical assistance to early retirees to help bridge the gap in coverage until they are eligible for Medicare.
(b) Policy 144.3 South Carolina Unemployment Compensation Insurance came up for periodic review from the Policies and Procedures Committee. The FFBWC reviewed the proposed wording changes and suggested that links be included in the electronic posting of the policy for easy access to South Carolina Employment Security Commission.
(c) Policy 144.4 (Workmen’s Compensation) also came up for periodic review from the Policies and Procedures Committee.
(d) Policy 228.1 (Tuition Benefits for Faculty and Staff) came up for periodic review from the Policies and Procedures Committee last year and was forward to the FFBWC in Spring 2004. A key proposal to add clarity is to break the policy into two components: 228.1 (Tuition Benefits for Faculty and Staff Dependents) and 228.2 (Tuition Benefits for Faculty and Staff). The FFBWC had reviewed and modified the proposed changes and forwarded them to FSC in Spring 2004 before receiving them back for additional review.
4. Of these four policies, the FFBWC devoted the bulk of our energy to the revisions of the Tuition Benefits policies. We revisited the proposed 228.1 in light of new questions raised by FSC. The Chair spoke with Benny Walker, VP for Enrollment, and the Committee met with Susan Zeiger and Martin Carney, Director of Financial Aid, to discuss implications of the policy revisions. The Committee worked to expand the language of the policy to include domestic partners. After getting administration approval for several of our proposed changes, the FFBWC forwarded the policy to the Policies and Procedures Committee.
5. The outgoing Chair and next year’s Chair (Nancy Shell) will meet together with Tom Hay, the new Director of Human Resources, in early May as part of the selection process for the university’s new Benefit Consultants. This consulting firm will work with the HR Director on a regular basis and will work with the Committee during any renewal or bid process.
The FFBWC thanks Susan Zeiger for her knowledge, energy and commitment to Furman’s employees in her position as Director of Personnel for the past 14 years. (Tom Hay began his position as new Human Resources Director in April.) Thanks also to Giselle Williams, and Mary Williams in the Personnel Office for their continued guidance and dedication on behalf of the Committees. The FFBWC is also appreciative of the EBC members Jean Adams, Todd Duke, and Ray Kuhne for their work. Finally, the chair heartily thanks Committee members Scott Henderson, Cheryl Patterson, Jeff Petty, Bruce Schoonmaker, and Nancy Shell for their diligent work this year.
Tim Fehler, Chair