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A-5 Faculty Welfare Committee

The principal work of the Faculty Welfare Committee (FWC) this year was replicating and extending the 2001 campus-wide survey of UT employees' satisfaction with the health care benefits currently offered at UT Austin. The 2002 survey provides a measure of changes in benefit utilization, satisfaction, and priorities for changes to the benefit system. The full text of the report can be found at http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2001-2002/reports/welfare_cmte_rpt.html.

The survey was designed to collect data from a random sample of all categories of UT employees. Analysis of survey responses provided insight into UT employees’ satisfaction with available health benefits and their priorities for health plan features. Satisfaction and priority data were compared across employee constituencies (faculty and staff). This year’s survey data were also compared to the responses to a similar survey conducted in 2001, to detect possible trends in employee satisfaction and priorities for changes in plan features.

The FWC would like to thank the hundreds of UT faculty and staff who responded. We gratefully acknowledge the substantial assistance received from deputy to the president, Charles Roeckle and the UT Office of the President, Associate Vice President Kyle Cavanaugh and his Office of Human Resources colleagues, and the UT System Employee Group Insurance Office. We particularly acknowledge the benefits project group of Professor Mark Alpert from his Special Projects in Marketing class, Marketing 372, teaching assistant Tonya Kellerman, and the student team members: Melissa Alarcon, Marisol Caravajal, Starlett Carter, Raymond Chang, Karan Dhillon, and Travis Hunt.

Sample: In contrast with last year’s survey of all benefits eligible UT employees, this year’s survey used a random sampling approach to obtain representative data in a more cost efficient manner. Statistical significance tests compared changes over time, taking into account the variability due to differences in sample sizes. The resulting sample was still large enough to detect several statistically significant trends.

Satisfaction with Health Plan & Optional Benefits: 2001 and 2002
Satisfaction was measured with a scale of 1, 2 or 3 (low, medium or high satisfaction). This year’s responses averaged 2.13 for overall satisfaction, compared to last year’s average of 2.35. This change in average satisfaction was statistically significant (p = .00). Although overall responses were generally favorable, there was a downward trend of 9.36% in overall satisfaction with the plans, without major changes in the plans.

The largest satisfaction declines were in prescription drugs (which did have increased co-payments), choice of plans, choice of providers (but still fairly satisfied), dental benefits, and dependent life insurance benefits. The comparative satisfaction ranks for these plans were generally similar over time even though the satisfaction levels have decreased.

UT faculty were generally more satisfied than staff with the choice of medical plans and providers, and the location of providers. Both groups were relatively less satisfied with prescription drug and mental health plans.

The conclusions and recommendations were:
The University of Texas at Austin leaders 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.
Compared to last year, employees remained generally satisfied with benefits, but there were significant declines in prescription drugs, choice of plans, choice of providers, dental benefits, and dependent life insurance benefits.
Mental Health Benefits and Prescription Drugs have the lowest levels of satisfaction. Improvements in these categories would improve the overall satisfaction of the 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:
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Keep out-of-pocket costs low.

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Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible.

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Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions.

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Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.

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Keep the deductible as low as possible.

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Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.

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Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one).

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Increase the choice 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.
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 UT 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.
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 continue to be used for efficiency in future surveys.
Whether the health plans are modified or 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 FWC also has addressed two other matters this year:
1. The FWC continued our work with Patricia Ohlendorf and Susan Bradshaw, 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).

The resulting document, “Modified Instructional Responsibilities Policy,” which addressed these legal concerns, was presented to and approved by the Faculty Council on March 17, 2003 http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2002-2003/legislation/mod_instr_res.html.

2. The FWC has been working jointly with the University Staff Advisory Council, particularly with the Insurance Working Committee of the Staff Council, on shared concerns, including possibilities for addressing some of the recommendations of the benefit survey, such as the strongly favorable response (69% responding "yes" or "definitely yes") to the exploratory question: "If the UT System were allowed to offer domestic partner benefits, would employees favor it?" In October 2002, FWC chair and UT’s representative to the Employee Group Insurance committee of UT System, Mark Alpert and Staff Council Benefits Committee chair, Andrew Gordon, wrote President Larry Faulkner a letter supporting domestic partner health benefits. President Faulkner has transmitted this letter, with his support, to the UT System for action in combination with the University’s legislative priorities. The FWC looks forward to continued work and collaboration with the Staff Council Benefits Committee.

The chair would like to thank the members of the FWC for their hard work, insights and cooperation. The members of this year’s committee were Melba Crawford (vice chair), Rebecca Baltzer, Wallace Fowler, Mark Gergen, Andrew Gordon (Staff Council Benefits Committee chair, ex officio), Sue Greninger, Hillary Hart, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Mary Steinhardt, and Mark Alpert (chair).

Mark I. Alpert, chair


This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/ on August 20, 2003. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.