University of Vermont

Office Of Student And Community Relations

Benefits Advisory Council Focuses on Healthcare Benefits

In response to receiving updated information from the administration, the University Benefits Advisory Council (UBAC) removed dependent tuition and retirement savings from consideration as potential cost sharing adjustment options at its Feb. 20 meeting at the Davis Center. Instead, council members focused exclusively on healthcare benefits and the potential impact of employees having to pay a higher percentage of healthcare premiums.

UBAC chair Jan Carney, research professor and associate dean for public health, presented a series of slides produced by human resources showing the overall cost of healthcare premiums to the university, which currently pays between 70 and 97 percent based on employee salaries. This accounts for $39.2 million of the FY2014 general fund budget or 13 percent of the total budget.  

Three scenarios were presented at the open meeting involving employee healthcare premium increases of 33 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent on a sliding scale based on six salary levels ranging from $24,000 to a high of $150,000. Individuals making $24,000 a year, for example, would see their overall contribution increase from four percent to 5.32 percent under the 33 percent scenario. That translates to an increase of $7.91 per month for single coverage, bringing their current monthly contribution of $23.98 to $31.89. Employee and spouse plans would increase by $15.83 per month; employee and children by $16.45; and family plans by $22.84. A 20 percent increase for employees making $24,000 a year would raise their current four percent overall contribution to 4.8 percent. 

Employees making $150,000 under the 33 percent increase scenario, would see their monthly premium increase from 29 percent to 38.6 percent with single payer premiums increasing by $57.55 per month; employee and spouse by $115.1; employee plus children by $119.61; and family by $166.05. Under the 20 percent scenario, employees at this pay level would see their overall monthly contribution go from 29 percent to 34.8 percent.

Overall, the anticipated savings to the general fund with a 33 percent increase in premiums would be $1.56 million and $952,329 with a 20 percent increase.

Carney emphasized that UBAC is strictly an advisory council that operates under an established set of guiding principles focused on protecting current employees and retirees from undue financial burden. In her view, the decision not to consider cost sharing adjustments to tuition remission and university savings plan was influenced by comments at two town hall meetings earlier in February and from hundreds of emails.