Gap Narrows in Healthcare Offerings Between Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Domestic Partners Despite Overall Decrease

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A recent survey undertaken by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) examined trends in healthcare offerings for higher education employees. The 2019 Healthcare Benefits for Higher Education Employees Survey gathered information from 365 higher education institutions about healthcare benefits for partners, types of plans offered, and the types of employees receiving healthcare benefits.

Notably, survey results showed a decrease in healthcare benefit offerings for domestic partners for the first time since 2005. The percentage of institutions offering healthcare benefits to same-sex domestic partners decreased 10 points since 2017 and the percentage of institutions offering healthcare benefits to opposite- sex domestic partners decreased by 6 points since 2017. Despite the decrease, the gap between healthcare offerings for same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners shrunk from 22 percentage points in 2017 to 18 percentage points in 2019, with 63 percent of institutions offering benefits to same-sex partners and 45 percent of institutions offering benefits to opposite-sex partners.

The survey found little change in the types of healthcare plans offered between 2017 and 2019. Eighty-three percent of higher education institutions offer Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, the most popular plan type. More than half of institutions offer two types of healthcare plans. Of those with two plans, 67 percent offer PPO and High Deductible Health (HDH) plans.

Outside of health insurance, offerings of other care plans have decreased. Slightly fewer institutions are offering stand-alone dental, vision, and long-term care plans now than in 2017. While the percentage of institutions with wellness programs has not changed since 2017, resources for these programs have declined. Wellness programs include components such as physical wellness education, financial wellness education, and physical activities. More than 80 percent of higher education institutions offer financial or non-financial incentives for employees to participate in their wellness program.

The past two years have also seen a decline in the percentage of institutions offering healthcare benefits to part-time employees and retirees. This decrease includes retirees both over and under the age of 65.

For more information about the Benefits in Higher Education Survey, read the overview or the full report. For more information about CUPA-HR’s research initiatives, visit their website.

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