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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

REPORT FROM THE FACULTY WELFARE COMMITTEE
BENEFIT PROGRAM SURVEY 2001

Elizabeth Richmond-Garza (associate professor, English) submitted the following report on behalf of the Faculty Welfare Committee. The committee will present the report to the Faculty Council at its meeting on March 18, 2002.


<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty


REPORT FROM THE FACULTY WELFARE COMMITTEE
BENEFIT PROGRAM SURVEY 2001

Purpose of Survey: To compare the relative satisfaction that all faculty, staff, and graduate assistants have with their current UT health benefits.

The survey was designed to collect data from all categories of UT employees. Analysis of survey responses provided insight into UT employeesÍ satisfaction with available health benefits, and their priorities for health plan features. Satisfaction and priority data were compared across employee constituencies (faculty, staff, and graduate students). The Faculty Welfare Committee would like to thank the thousands of UT faculty, staff, and graduates assistants who responded. The substantial assistance received from the UT Office of the PresidentÍs, Associate VP Kyle Cavanaugh and his Office of Human Resources colleagues, UT System official Dan Stewart, and particularly the benefits project group of Professor Mark Alpert from his Special Projects in Marketing class, Marketing 372, especially Mike Adams, Seth Hachmeister, Farhan Iftikhar, Kim Tills and Steven Fargo, are gratefully acknowledged.

Sample: There were 15,000 surveys distributed to UT employees through campus mail and website. A total of 5118 (34%) were completed, 2973 (58%) by hard copy and 2145 (42%) by website.

The sample included 3623 (71%) staff, 865 (17%) faculty, and 630 (12%) graduate student participants. The replies from each constituency represent a response rate of 41.43% by the staff, 35.84 % by the faculty and 15.81% by the graduate student participants. Other demographic data included gender, age, and health plan variables. The majority of the sample were female (57.6%), homeowners (64.4%), and in the 30 to 49 year age range (49.6%). There were 29.5% in the 50 to 65 year age range, 2.3% over 65 years, and 18.6% under 30 years. Therefore, 31.8% of the respondents represent the age group that traditionally has a much higher need for health care benefits.

Findings: At present, The University of Texas system offers two health care plan choices to employees. Employees are enrolled in UT Select (52%) or Humana HMO (48%). The plans provide health care coverage to employees only (60%), employees and spouses (13%), employees and families (14%), and employees and children (13%). Of the optional benefits offered to employees, 77% have Dental benefits, 51% have Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits, 50% have Long-term Disability benefits, 50% have Vision benefits, and 17% have Long-term Care benefits.

Satisfaction with Health Plan & Optional Benefits
Satisfaction was measured with a scale of 1 (low satisfaction) to 3 (high satisfaction). The table below lists the mean satisfaction scores by health plan. Keep in mind that only individuals who were enrolled in the optional health benefits indicated their satisfaction with the benefit.


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It is also worth mentioning that in spite of the downward bias of survey responses to benefits services, and the recent changes in the UT plans, overall satisfaction scores were fairly good. The key is to use this as a baseline for similarly-conducted surveys, to detect trends up or down.

   Humana HMO UT Select
Question Respondents Mean Respondents Mean
Choice of plan
2387
2.22
2569
2.25
Choice of providers
2372
2.27
2551
2.34
Provider location
2347
2.38
2487
2.46
Prescription Drugs
2294
2.16
2451
2.28
Dental benefit
2072
2.24
2082
2.29
Vision benefit
1477
2.34
1432
2.35
Long-term Disability
1291
2.27
1158
2.32
Personal Accident
1363
2.29
1158
2.34
Employee Life
1662
2.34
1490
2.37
Dependent Life
969
2.27
638
2.27
Long-term Care
650
2.17
623
2.23

In general, the plans were rated similarity in satisfaction scores.

Satisfaction with Optional Benefits by Employee Category
The table below lists the mean satisfaction scores for each of the optional benefits and sorted by employee category.

  Faculty Staff Graduate Student
Optional benefit  N Mean  N Mean  N Mean
Dental benefit
709
2.26
3065
2.25
386
2.36
Vision benefit
483
2.39
2163
2.33
269
2.35
Long-term Disability
450
2.32
1902
2.3
108
2.2
Personal Accident
400
2.32
1990
2.32
144
2.27
Employee Life
541
2.4
2433
2.35
541
2.3
Dependent Life
274
2.28
1267
2.27
71
2.3
Long-term Care
246
2.22
959
2.2
67
2.22

Ranking of Possible Health Plan Features
Eight features were identified by the committee in consultation with the Office of Human Resources. Respondents were asked to prioritize the eight features by indicating a ranking of highest (1) to lowest (8) priority. The table below is the overall ranking of the eight features for the entire sample.

Rank
Feature
Mean
1
Keep out-of-pocket costs low
3.13
2
Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible
3.66
3
Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contribution
4.01
4
Keep preventive care (physical exams, immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
4.26
5
Keep the deductible as low as possible
4.36
6
Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
4.7
7
Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one)
5.67
8
Increase the number of physicians available to me
5.85


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Ranking of Possible Health Plan Features by Employee Category
The ranking data was sorted by employee category and is provided in the table below.

  Faculty Staff Graduate Student
Feature Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean
Low out-of-pocket costs
1
3.54
1
3.05
1
2.92
Low prescription co-pay
2
4.07
2
3.55
2
3.6
Lowest employee premium contribution
3
4.12
3
3.87
5
4.42
Low preventive care out-of-pocket costs
4
4.32
4
4.29
3
3.88
Lowest deductible
7
4.49
5
4.39
4
3.93
Low in-patient costs
5
4.46
6
4.72
6
4.73
No lifetime max
6
4.48
7
5.76
8
6.46
Increase physicians available
8
5.51
8
5.9
7
5.66

There is little difference between the ranked priorities of faculty, staff, and graduate assistants. Differences in mean scores did occur, and should be evaluated to discern that graduate assistant and staff preferences to keep costs as low as possible seemed greater, on an absolute scale than that of the faculty.1

Exploratory Question
An exploratory question was included in the survey: If the UT System were allowed to offer Domestic Partner Benefits, would employees favor it? Overwhelmingly, the employees (n = 4836 responded to question) support this benefit with 75% responding "yes" or "definitely yes."

Recommendations:

  • The University of Texas at Austin, 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:
    1) Keep out-of-pocket costs low
    2) Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible
    3) Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions
    4) Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
    5) Keep the deductible as low as possible
    6) Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
    7) Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one)
    8) Increase the number of physicians available to me
  • Try to avoid switching health plans every year. Once a health plan is selected it should be continued.

  • There are many employees that 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 towards the benefits of each plan.

  • Long-Term care has the lowest level of satisfaction. An improvement in this category would improve the overall satisfaction of the employees.

  • Everyone has different attitudes towards 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


    1 Paragraph added on March 6, 2002.


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    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.

  • 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.
  • The Committee recommends the addition of exploratory questions pertaining to Mental Health Care coverage to determine employee satisfaction with this feature of the health plans.

  • 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.



This report was posted on the Faculty Council web site on March 5, 2002. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.