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A-5
Faculty Welfare Committee


The principal work of the Faculty Welfare Committee this year was replicating and extending the 2001 and 2002 campus-wide surveys of UT employees' satisfaction with the health care benefits currently offered at UT Austin. The 2003 survey provides a measure of changes in benefit utilization, satisfaction, and priorities for changes to the benefit system. The full text of the report with conclusions and recommendations can be found in Appendix A-5 of this document.

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 2002 to detect possible trends in employee satisfaction and priorities for changes in plan features.

The Faculty Welfare Committee would like to thank the hundreds of UT faculty and staff who responded. We gratefully acknowledge the substantial assistance received from Associate Vice President Kyle Cavanaugh and the Office of Human Resources colleagues (especially Rich Janes), information technology specialist Stewart McMaken, marketing department staff (Josephine Mabry, Jessica Hester and Susan Ostreicher), and the UT System Employee Group Insurance Office (especially Laura Chambers). We particularly acknowledge Professor Mark Alpert and the benefits project group from his Special Projects in Marketing class, Marketing 372, teaching assistant Tonya Kellerman, and the student team members: Leah Mercier, Lindsay Civitarese, Veronica Pena, Junice Yeo, and Marco Li.

Sample: In contrast with 2001’s benchmark survey of all benefits eligible UT employees, this year’s survey used an approach similar to the 2002 survey’s random sampling method 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: 2002 and 2003
This year’s responses averaged 2.12 for overall satisfaction, compared to last year’s average of 2.13, both slightly better than “medium satisfaction.” This change in average satisfaction was not statistically significant. Although both 2003 and 2002 show a decline of 9.36% in overall satisfaction with the plan since 2001, last year’s decline appears to have stabilized. As shown below, satisfaction varies across plans, with prescription drugs, mental health, and dental plans remaining problematic.

The committee in consultation with the Office of Human Resources and UT System identified eight features that involve trade-offs among desirable features (e.g., quality of service vs. out-of-pocket costs and/or premiums). The survey called for ranking priorities among them. “The UT System must continue to make difficulty choices to keep the medical plan viable. Which of the following features would you like to see in the modified plan? (Please rank 1-8, with 1 being your most important priority)”

This year’s top four choices (shown below) are exactly the same as last year’s choices. The four least important rankings changed. The least important choice last year was “Increase the choice of physicians available to me” which is now the fifth most important with the wording changed to “Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible” in 2003. We also noted that Faculty consider this their #1 priority, while it ranks fifth out of eight for Staff and Graduate Student Assistants, who placed relatively more emphasis on lower out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to the survey, the Faculty Welfare Committee also has also been concerned with the progress and implementation of the “Proposal to Modify Instructional Responsibilities Policy.” Prior Faculty Welfare Committee members had devoted considerable effort to this proposal, in cooperation with Patricia Ohlendorf and Susan Bradshaw, and the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Relations & Legal Affairs.

As noted in the October 2003 Secretary’s report by John Durbin:

D 2483-2484 Proposal to Modify Instructional Responsibilities Policy. Posted on the Faculty Council Web site on March 4, 2003. Approved by the Faculty Council on March 17, 2003. The proposal had evolved, through cooperation with the administration and responses from the UT System, from a 1999 proposal for modified duties for faculty members who give birth or have primary responsibility for a newborn child. (See D 938-940.) Transmitted to the president on March 18, 2003. The proposal was modified and approved by Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson and transmitted to the president with the following modifications on May 22, 2003:

"1. All teaching load adjustments will be granted in compliance with equivalencies set out in Part I, Chap III, Sec. 36.1 and 36.2 of the Regents' Rules and Regulations;
"2. The revised policy does not provide more benefits to members of the full-time faculty than are authorized by the state law or the Regents' Rules and Regulations;
"3. The policy is gender neutral in both its scope and application in that it applies to all members of the faculty who are appointed full-time on the instructional budget in a long-session semester;
"4. The language of the original policy has been modified so as to insure that the revised policy is consistent with state law and University policy related to sick leave; and
"5. The revised policy includes language that assures that faculty members who are on modified instructional duties status will render legitimate services to the University in exchange for their salaries.”

A footnote was added to clarify that the policy is not intended to apply to situations where use of sick leave is appropriate.

The president approved and transmitted the modified proposal to the vice chancellor and general counsel on June 3, 2003.

On September 19, 2003, notice was received that the Office of General Counsel and Executive Vice Chancellor Terry Sullivan approved the legislation with the caveat that the policy include the sentence, "All teaching load modifications will be granted in compliance with the equivalencies set out in Part One, chapter III, Sections 36.1 and 36.2 of the Regents' Rules and Regulations."

The resulting Modified Instructional Duties Policy is available on the website of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost (http://www.utexas.edu/provost/policies/mod_duties/). The Faculty Welfare Committee is following with interest the implementation of this policy at the University. The committee intends to consult with UT Administration regarding the effectiveness of communications about this policy, utilization by faculty and UT departments, and the effectiveness of guidelines for preparing and evaluating proposals for modified instructional responsibilities (research, administrative service, and curriculum development). These tasks will continue during the next academic year(s) as the policy becomes more widely known and more formally implemented.

The chair would like to thank the members of the Welfare Committee for their hard work, insights, and cooperation. The members of the committee this year were: Patrick Brocket, Wallace Fowler, Alan Friedman, Mark Gergen, Andrew Gordon (Staff Council Insurance Committee chair, ex-officio), Sue Greninger, Hillary Hart, Julia Mickenberg, Mary Steinhardt, and Mark Alpert (chair).

Mark Alpert, chair




APPENDIX A-5

2003 BENEFIT PROGRAM SURVEY
Report from
UT AUSTIN FACULTY WELFARE COMMITTEE



Purpose of Survey: To compare the relative satisfaction that all faculty, staff, and graduate assistants have with their current UT health benefits and to report trends over time and priorities and trade-offs for changes in health benefits.

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, staff and graduate student assistants). This year’s survey data were also compared to the responses to a similar survey conducted in 2002 to detect possible trends in employee satisfaction and priorities for changes in plan features.

The Faculty Welfare Committee would like to thank the hundreds of UT faculty and staff who responded. We gratefully acknowledge the substantial assistance received from Associate VP Kyle Cavanaugh and his Office of Human Resources colleagues (especially Rich Janes), Information Technology specialist Stewart McMaken, Marketing Department staff (Josephine Mabry, Jessica Hester and Susan Ostreicher), and the UT System Employee Group Insurance Office (especially Laura Chambers). We particularly acknowledge Professor Mark Alpert and the benefits project group from his Special Projects in Marketing class, Marketing 372, teaching assistant Tonya Kellerman, and the student team members: Leah Mercier, Lindsay Civitarese, Veronica Pena, Junice Yeo, and Marco Li.

Sample: In contrast with 2001’s benchmark survey of all benefits eligible UT employees, this year’s survey used an approach similar to the 2002 survey’s random sampling method 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.

There were 1,744 surveys distributed to UT employees through campus mail and website. Both English versions and Spanish translations of the survey and cover letter were used to reach a representative sample of UT employees. A total of 381 (21.8%) were completed and analyzed, 46 (12.1%) by hard copy and 335 (87.9%) by website. These figures compare with the 2002 survey numbers of 1,342 distributed, and 372 (27.7%) completed, 37 (10%) by hard copy and 335 (90%) by website.

The sample included 256 (67.9%) staff, 90 (23.9%) faculty participants, and 31 (8.2%) graduate student assistants. The replies from each constituency represent a response rate of 36.0% by the staff, 22.1% by the faculty, and 5.0% by the graduate student assistants. Faculty response percentage was slightly higher than last year’s 21.7%, staff’s response rate increased from 28.1%, and graduate student response, while low, produced 31 responses vs. last year’s 3 (from a sample in which graduate students had not been sampled separately from staff). In 2003, as in 2002, figures also reflect a disproportionate percentage of faculty respondents (due to sampling 15% of the smaller number of faculty, to obtain a statistically valid sample, vs. 10% of the larger number of staff). Differences between faculty, staff, and graduate student assistants’ attitudes are reported, so that comparisons can be made. Also, these sub-sample group differences tended to decrease the differences found in comparisons in overall attitudes towards plans from 2002 to 2003, and only one significant change was identified. This suggests that the trends reported here would be even larger if a greater percentage of staff were to be sampled. As will be shown below, staff were less positive towards the benefit plans than were faculty; hence the higher proportion of faculty in this year’s sample “improved” the obtained plan ratings, which stayed at about the same level as in 2002 and was lower than in 2001. Because the proportion of faculty respondents in 2003 was less than for 2002, the "flat" trend is not positively biased by the proportion of faculty.

Other demographic data included gender, age, and health plan variables. The majority of the respondents were female (59.3%), homeowners (74.6%), and in the 30 to 49 year age range (51.5%). There were 35.3% in the 50 to 65 year age range, 3.4% over 65 years, and 9.8% under 30 years. Therefore, 38.7% of the respondents represent the age group that traditionally has a much higher need for health care benefits. For comparison, last year’s sample contained 45.2% in this age category (38.1% from 50 to 65, and 7.1% over 65 years).

It is possible that this year’s sample were less frequent users of the health care system, which should be considered when interpreting the reported stability in overall satisfaction scores vs. 2002. Although non-response biases tend to be similar from year to year, obtaining a greater percentage of more frequent health care users might have produced somewhat lower satisfaction scores than were reported. Overall satisfaction remained about the same, which is consistent with keeping the plans similar for both years.

Findings: In 2003, as in 2002, The University of Texas System offers two health care plan choices to employees. Comparisons for this year vs. last year respondents will be shown by citing 2003, then 2002 figures. Our sample of responding employees are enrolled in UT Select (56.1%; unchanged from 56.3%), Humana HMO (40.7% down from 43.4%), and “other” (2.9%, up from .3%). The plans provide health care coverage to employees only (53.0%, down from 60.4%), employees and spouses (17.7%, up from 12.6%), employees and families (14.5%, unchanged), and employees and children (18.8%, up from 13%). Of the optional benefits offered to employees, 79% have Dental benefits (vs. 80.9%), 48.8% have Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits (vs. 55.3%), 51.9% have Long-term Disability benefits (vs. 57.9%), 53.3% have Vision benefits (vs. 57.9%), 13.9% have Long-term Care benefits (vs. 18.3%), and 18.6% have Short-term Disability benefits (newly offered in 2003).

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). The table below lists the mean satisfaction scores by health plan benefit. Note that optional benefits were predominantly rated by those who choose them, with non-users nearly always checking not applicable (N/A).

This year’s responses averaged 2.12 for overall satisfaction, compared to last year’s average of 2.13, both slightly better than “medium satisfaction.” This change in average satisfaction was not statistically significant. Although both 2003 and 2002 show a decline of 9.36% in overall satisfaction with the plan since 2001, last year’s decline appears to have stabilized. As shown below, satisfaction varies across plans, with prescription drugs, mental health, and dental plans remaining problematic.

The following table compares mandatory and optional coverage satisfaction levels for all employees of UT Austin reported in 2003 and 2002.

  2003 Satisfaction 2002 Satisfaction Significant Trend?(p < .05)
Choice of Medical Plans 2.18 2.04 Yes
Choice of Medical Providers in Network 2.28 2.20 No
Location of Provider 2.50 2.43 No
Prescription Drug 1.77 1.85 No
Dental Benefit 1.92 1.94 No
Vision Benefit 2.14 2.18 No
Long-term Disability Benefit 2.19 2.25 No
Personal Accident Benefit 2.24 2.32 No
Employee Life Insurance Benefit 2.27 2.32 No
Dependent Life Insurance Benefit 2.05 2.15 No
Long-term Care Benefit 1.98 1.92 No
UT Flex 2.30 2.33 No

Satisfaction Levels: 3 = high satisfaction 2 = satisfaction 1= low satisfaction

The relative satisfaction ranks for these plans were generally similar over time. The following table shows relative satisfaction for the plans that are mandatory for those who choose health care coverage. Similarly rated plans are grouped into “tiers.”

Satisfaction with Mandatory Health Plan Benefits: 2003

  Satisfaction of Current Coverages Mean
Tier 1 Location of Providers 2.50
Tier 2
Choice of Medical Providers in Network 2.28
Choice of Medical Plans 2.18
Employee Premium 2.04
Tier 3
Mental Health Plan 1.78
Prescription Drug 1.77
Out of Pocket Costs 1.75

Footnote: Numbers differ slightly from other tables, because this statistical test required deleting respondents who did not rate ALL of the plans; other tests included all who rated at least one plan.

The lower the tier number (tier 3 being the lowest), the lower the satisfaction, and the more the UT system should concentrate on improving that category. Out of pocket costs, prescription drugs, and mental health plan seem to have the most concern. Out of pocket costs were not rated in prior years, although written comments had expressed concerns, and this year’s data confirms this is an area of relatively low satisfaction. Subject to the priorities and trade-offs expressed below, employee satisfaction may be improved by efforts to improve these costs, along with mental health and dental plans.

Satisfaction level of Mandatory Coverage Benefits across Faculty and Staff and Graduate Student Assistants:

  Faculty Mean Staff Mean Graduate Student Mean Sig. (p <.05)
Choice of medical plans 2.31 2.10 2.37 Yes
Choice of medical providers in network 2.36 2.23 2.43 No
Location of providers 2.49 2.50 2.56 No
Prescription drug 1.95 1.69 1.88 Yes
Mental Health Plan: 1.64 1.80 1.93 No
Employee Premium 2.04 2.03 2.16 No
Out of Pocket Costs 1.78 1.74 1.74 No


According to the post hoc test, staff was significantly more dissatisfied than faculty and graduate student assistants with the choice of medical plans and prescription drugs.

Satisfaction level of Optional Coverage Benefits:

  Satisfaction of OptionalCoverages Mean
Tier 1
Flexible Spending Account (UT FLEX) 2.30
Employee life insurance 2.27
Accidental Death and Dismemberment 2.25
Tier 2
Long-term Disability 2.19
Vision 2.14
Tier 3
Dependent life insurance 2.05
Long-term Care 1.98
Dental 1.92


Dental, long-term care, and dependent life insurance benefits were rated lowest in satisfaction. Satisfaction was significantly higher for UT Flex, employee life insurance, and accidental death & dismemberment. There were no significant differences in the patterns of optional benefits satisfaction scores reported by faculty, staff, and graduate student assistants, indicating they were similar in their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with these benefits.

Of the low-rated options, dental has the greatest impact, affecting the 79% of respondents who have dental insurance. Further research may examine the amount employees would be willing to pay to improve benefits. The fact that five times as many employees choose the more costly Delta Dental (vs. Fortis DMO) may call for offering an even more expensive plan than Delta, with higher benefits.

Satisfaction level of current health plan features across HUMANA HMO and UT SELECT:

The chart below shows how subscribers answered each question about their specific plan (HUMANA HMO and UT SELECT PPO). The table’s first seven rows compare features that vary between plans. Five of these are significantly higher in satisfaction for UT Select customers: choice of medical plans, choice and location of providers, prescription drugs, and employee premium contributions. These differences reflect other studies showing HMO subscribers less satisfied than PPO subscribers with choice of providers and prescription drugs. Note that the physician choice also ranks lower in importance for Humana customer than those choosing UT Select, as shown in the comparative ranking of priorities for plan design (the last eight rows in the table).

Now that monthly premiums are almost the same for both plans, Humana customers’ lower satisfaction with these costs may reflect demographics of those choosing Humana (generally younger), as well as unhappiness that these more restrictive plans now cost as much as the more flexible UT Select PPO. The fact that over 40% still choose Humana implies these employees prefer an imperfect HMO to the PPO, even though they complain about it.
2003 Humana vs. UT Select Comparisons

Question
HUMANA HMO
 
UT SELECT
   
 
Number of Respondents
Mean
Number of Respondents
Mean
Significant (p < .05)
Choice of medical plans 152 2.05 208 2.26 Yes
Choice of providers a 151 2.11 204 2.4 Yes
Location of providers a 153 2.40 204 2.61 Yes
Prescription Drugs a 150 1.67 200 1.82 Yes
Mental Health Plana 77 1.69 110 1.81 Yes
Employee Premiuma 132 1.91 189 2.12 Yes
Out of pocket costsa 146 1.71 201 1.78 No
Dental Benefita 135 1.84 170 1.98 No
Vision Benefita 104 2.11 131 2.15 No
Long-Term Disabilitya 92 2.17 106 2.20 No
Short Term Disabilitya 51 2.22 54 2.04 No
Accidental Death & Dismembermenta 100 2.18 102 2.28 No
Employee Life Insurancea 117 2.28 129 2.36 No
Dependent Life Insurancea 71 2.06 39 2.00 No
Flexible Spending Account (UT Flex) a 45 2.18 84 2.37 No
Long-Term Care Benefit a 42 2.02 34 1.91 No
Prescription Co-Pay Lowb 85 3.45 124 3.99 No
Choice of Physiciansb 85 5.06 124 4.21 Yes
Lowest Deductibleb 85 4.60 124 4.30 No
No life-time maximumb 85 5.64 124 5.35 No
Low out-of-pocketb 85 3.42 124 3.61 No
Lowest premiumb 85 3.89 124 4.23 No
Low in-patientb 85 5.06 124 5.36 No
Low preventative careb 85 4.85 124 4.91 No

Footnote:
a. Satisfaction scores are scaled from 1 to 3: 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest.
b. These options were ranked from 1 to 8: 1 being the highest preference and 8 being the lowest preference. Information for these options excludes those whose surveys were eliminated (about 14%) due to incorrect responses.


Ranking of Possible Changes in Features:

The committee in consultation with the Office of Human Resources and UT System identified eight features that involve trade-offs among desirable features (e.g., quality of service vs. out-of-pocket costs and/or premiums). The survey called for ranking priorities among them. “The UT System must continue to make difficulty choices to keep the medical plan viable. Which of the following features would you like to see in the modified plan? (Please rank 1-8, with 1 being your most important priority)”

Tiers of Importance of Health Plan Priorities

By testing for differences between average priority rankings, we have grouped these health plan features into tiers of importance. The following is the overall rank of the features that the UT employees of 2003 would like to see in the modified plan.

  Preference Mean
Tier 1
Keep out-of-pocket costs low 3.549
Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible 3.749
Tier 2
Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions 4.079
Tier 3
Keep the deductible as low as possible 4.428
Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible 4.581
Tier 4
Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible 4.907
Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible 5.237
Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one) 5.433

Footnote:
These options were ranked from 1 to 8: 1 being the highest preference and 8 being the lowest preference.

Out-of-pocket costs include office visit co-payments, deductibles, and co-insurance amounts for the medical plans

These tiers should be used as a guide to determine what health plan features should be considered most important to preserve, with those ranked in lower tiers being possible features to “trade off” in return for retaining those ranked in higher tiers of importance. These tiers can be used to organize the employees’ priorities for possible changes in the health care plans. They reinforce the above priorities to maintain low out-of-pocket costs and prescription co-payments, and low premium contributions. The average employee is less concerned about hospitalization out-of-pocket costs and lifetime maximums, but priorities vary somewhat (see below) depending on the employee’s classification.

If changes must be made, lower tier changes may be less problematic. Note that increasing the lifetime maximum would adversely affect the older employees, even if the younger employees are relatively more concerned with minimizing their out-of-pocket costs (and may defer worrying about health care restrictions until they become older).

Relative priorities changed somewhat from those reported in 2002. The following is the comparison of the ranking preferences of health plan features for 2002 and 2003:

Overall Ranking

Rank of features 03’ Rank of features 02’ Choice Mean 03 Mean 02
1 1 Keep out-of-pocket costs low 3.549 3.03
2 2 Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible 3.749 3.39
3 3 Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions 4.079 3.54
4 4 Keep the medical plan deductible as low as possible 4.428 3.78
5 8 Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible 4.581 4.76
6 6 Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible 4.907 4.19
7 5 Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible 5.237 4.10
8 7 Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one) 5.433 4.29


*“Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible” for this year was changed from last year’s “Increase the choice of physicians”

*Means calculated from this year and last year were obtained from data with multiple ties removed (errors in following ranking instructions).

This year’s top four choices are exactly the same as last year’s choices. The choices being

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 the medical plan deductible as low as possible


The four least important rankings changed. The least important choice last year was “Increase the choice of physicians available to me” which is now the 5th most important with the wording changed to “Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible” in 2003. This indicates that maintaining physician choice is more important than increasing it, and now ranks higher than features such as the following:

” Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible” and “Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible” have decreased slightly in importance as they moved one down each on the rank scale.

Ranking of Possible Health Plan Features by Employee Category

The following are the ranking preferences of the various health plan features by the UT Austin faculty, staff, and graduate students, as shown in the Table below.

Keep out-of-pocket costs low and keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible are the two most important features, while keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible and do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan are the least important features for the staff and graduate students. The ranking of these features between the staff and graduate students is pretty close to the overall rankings, as the top three features remain the same, as well as the last two. The staff rankings are almost identical to the overall rankings. Because staff and graduate student assistants constitute over 76% of the responses, they of course influence these outcomes.

The significant differences shown are between the faculty and staff on priorities such as “Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible,” which the faculty ranks as the most important, but the staff and graduate students rank as 5th. Faculty are also more concerned than graduate student assistants and staff with preventing a lifetime maximum in the health plan and less concerned than are these groups with maintaining the lowest possible employee premium contributions.

Ranking of Possible Health Plan Features by Employee Category

Choice
Faculty Rank
Faculty mean
Staff Rank
Staff mean
GSA
Rank
GSA mean
Significant?
(p < .05)
Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible
1
3.61
5
4.85
5
4.50
Yes
Keep out-of-pocket costs low
2
3.95
1
3.41
1
3.75
No
Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible
3
4.09
2
3.66
2
3.80
No
Keep the medical plan deductible as low as possible
4
4.20
4
4.47
6
4.75
No
Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one)
5
4.50
8
5.65
8
5.95
Yes
Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions
6
4.91
3
3.83
3
4.05
Yes
Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
7
5.05
6
4.94
4
4.30
No
Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
8
5.64
7
5.15
7
4.90
No


The three groups generally agree with what features are satisfactory and which ones need improvement (noted earlier). They also agree on the importance of low prescription co-payments and out-of-pocket costs. They differ somewhat in preferences for features such as maintaining provider choice and no lifetime maximum benefits and their willingness to pay for them.

Domestic Partner Benefits

An exploratory question was again included in the survey: If the UT System were allowed to offer domestic partner benefits, would employees favor it? The employees support this benefit, with 70% responding “yes” or “definitely yes.” Last year 69% said “yes” or “definitely yes.” The average level of support (from “definitely no” = 1 to “definitely yes” = 4) went up slightly from 2.965 to 3.03, remaining similarly positive. Legislative action would be necessary to enable UT to offer these benefits, and recent legislation has reflected opposition to doing so.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

Based on the above quantitative results and statistically significant comparisons, supplemented by trends noted in the written comments and suggestions employees also provided in the surveys, our conclusions and recommendations are the following:

The University of Texas at Austin and UT System executives 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. Although on average 9% lower than in 2001, overall 2003 satisfaction did not change from that reported in 2002. Satisfaction with provider choice improved, in contrast with the previous year’s decline.

Mental health benefits, prescription drug, and out of pocket costs have the lowest levels of satisfaction. Improvements in these categories would improve the overall satisfaction of the employees.

Humana satisfaction is somewhat lower than that for UT Select, particularly in provider choice and location, and prescription drugs. Improvements would no doubt be welcome, and with almost 41% of those surveyed choosing Humana, the plan is important to them.

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:
o Keep out-of-pocket costs low
o Keep the prescription co-pay as low as possible
o Maintain the lowest possible employee premium contributions
o Keep the medical plan deductible as low as possible
o Keep the choice of physicians as large as possible
o Keep preventive care (physical exams/immunizations) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
o Keep in-patient (hospitalization) out-of-pocket costs as low as possible
o Do not add a lifetime maximum in the health care plan (current plan does not have one)

Continue 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 towards health plans. There are many employees who are dissatisfied because the two current health plans do not cover what they are interested in. 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. All three groups seek low out-of-pocket and drug costs, as well as improvements in mental health and dental plans. Faculty tend to favor more provider choice than do staff and graduate student assistants and place a somewhat lower priority on low monthly premiums.

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.