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A-5 Faculty Welfare Committee

The principal work of the Faculty Welfare Committee this year was designing, administering, and evaluating the campus-wide survey of UT employees' satisfaction with the health care benefits currently offered at UT Austin. The results of this survey were presented to the Faculty Council on March 18, 2002. The full text of the report can be found at http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2001-2002/reports/welfare_cmte_rpt.html

The purpose of the survey was to compare the relative satisfaction that all faculty, staff, and graduate assistants have with their current UT health benefits. The committee was especially interested in the demographic profile of faculty, staff, and graduate assistant categories, an overall analysis of each category, an assessment of the relative satisfaction of different coverages by each category, a comparison of relative satisfaction, and a comparison across the whole sample of use, preferences, and needs.

The survey was designed to develop an overall analysis of health benefit variables of UT Austin employees and to compare and contrast the individual demographic samples against each other. The demographic information used includes sex, age, residential location, health plan, and whether the person is faculty, staff or a graduate assistant. The discursive comments included by some of the respondents were still being analyzed as of May 2002.

The Faculty Welfare Committee would like to thank the thousands of UT faculty, staff, and graduate assistants who responded. The committee gratefully acknowledges the substantial assistance received from the UT Office of the President, Associate Vice President Kyle Cavanaugh and his colleagues in the Office of Human Resources, UT System official Dan Stewart, and, especially Mike Adams, Seth Hachmeister, Farhan Iftikhar, Kim Tills, and Steven Fargo, from Professor Mark Alpert's Special Projects in Marketing class.

The recommendations were that
1. The Faculty Welfare Committee should use the information that is provided in this report to assist them in finding a health plan that is satisfactory to all UT employees.

The overall ranking of health plan features should be used to guide decision-making during negotiations with health care providers. The overall rankings are as follows:

a) Keep out-of-pocket costs low.
b) Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible.
c) Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions.
d) Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.
e) Keep the deductible as low as possible.
f) Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.
g) Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one).
h) Increase the number of physicians available to me.
3. Try to avoid switching health plans every year. Once a health plan is selected it should be continued.
4. There are many employees who do not fully understand the current health plan that they are enrolled in. Providing better information or informational meetings would improve the knowledge of each health plan and could create a more positive attitude toward the benefits of each plan.
5. Long-term care has the lowest level of satisfaction. An improvement in this category would improve the overall satisfaction of the employees.
6. Everyone has different attitudes toward health plans. There are many employees who are dissatisfied because the two current health plans do not cover what they are interested in. If it is possible, The University of Texas should provide additional health plans from which employees may choose. The plans selected should address different preferences regarding the trade-off between the cost to employee and the flexibility and physician selection provided by the plan.
7. Satisfaction surveys should be conducted on an annual basis in the future to evaluate satisfaction and to obtain employee input into desired health benefits. We recommend that a statistical sample be used for efficiency in future surveys. The last benefits survey was conducted in 1993 and cannot serve as a good basis for comparison with the 2001 survey.
8. Exploratory questions pertaining to mental health care coverage to determine employee satisfaction with this feature of the health plans should be added.
9. When the health plans remain the same from one year to the next, future surveys should include questions about problems with the health plans and evaluate how well plan administrators have responded to the problems.

In addition to the survey, the Faculty Welfare Committee also has addressed two other matters this year:
1. The Welfare Committee has been working with Patricia Ohlendorf, and the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Relations & Legal Affairs, to recast "The Policy on Teaching Continuity and Restructured Faculty Workload Upon the Birth or Adoption of a Child," so that its rejection will be reconsidered by the Office of General Counsel of The University of Texas System for inclusion in the Handbook of Operating Procedures. (D 938-940 can be viewed on the Faculty Council Web site at http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2000-2001/legislation/teaching_cont.html.)
2. The Welfare Committee has been working jointly with the newly-formed Staff Council, particularly with the Insurance Working Committee of the Staff Council, since January on shared concerns, especially concrete possibilities for addressing some of the recommendations of the benefit survey, such as the overwhelmingly favorable response (75% responding "yes" or "definitely yes") to the exploratory question: "If the UT System were allowed to offer domestic partner benefits, would employees favor it?" The Welfare Committee looks forward to continued work and collaboration with the Staff Council Insurance Working Committee.

After a year of particularly intensive work, the chair would like to thank the members of the Welfare Committee for their extraordinary generosity with time, energy, and expertise. The members of the committee this year were: Mark Alpert (vice-chair), Katherine Arens, Rebecca Baltzer, Brian Bremen, Diana DiNitto, Mark Gergen, Nell Gottlieb, Sharon Horner, and Elizabeth Richmond-Garza (chair).

  Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, chair

This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/ on July 29, 2002. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.

  Last updated:July 29, 2002
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