Fringe Benefits Committee
Annual Report 2012-13
The work of the Fringe Benefits Committee has centered on health care during the current year. However, much of the work is conducted prior to the start of the academic year, primarily during the spring and summer. The committee met regularly beginning in April of 2012 and continuing through August 2012 in an effort to have providers selected and plan changes identified prior to Open Enrollment in November.
Outside of health benefits, Furman changed providers for Long Term Disability and Group/Supplemental Life. The new provider is Sun Life. The primary rationale for the change was that our benefits, especially for long-term disability, increased dramatically for little out of pocket costs to employees (there were increases but not substantial).
As with the last couple of years, there were changes to Furman’s health care plan. The changes were presented to the faculty in October. Furman, like all other employers, is facing substantial financial pressure from rising health care costs. Health care inflation is rising at a pace about twice the overall inflation rate in the U.S. Furman has kept its increases below the national average but changes to the plan were a necessity.
The committee undertook a comprehensive review of our plan as compared to a broad group of peers in higher education and in the broader employment arena. Uniformly, our benefits were substantially higher (better) than these groups. As such, the committee recommended changes that are reflected primarily in plan details and not premiums, e.g. co-pays for doctor’s visits, deductibles, etc. were increased. Additionally, the committee recommended a fourth option/tier for employees from which to choose to better reflect the costs of different personal/family profiles. The committee struggled with these changes knowing the impact on out of pocket costs for families and tried to make changes that would have the least impact on the community. In an effort to help employees make better informed decisions, we asked Cigna to provide onsite meetings with a representative to help each employee make the choice that best suited their personal situation.
The committee has already been meeting for the 2013-2014 benefits season. The Furman community needs to understand that more change is forthcoming. Some of the changes are a result of continued cost pressures, but this year changes will be driven by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has direct cost implications to the university. In addition to navigating these changes, the committee will also undertake a review of retiree health benefits, especially given the changes at the national level.
Tom Smythe, Chair