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Joint Councils Get Update on Benefits

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
September 19, 2007

Members of the OS, PAT and EE councils got a crash course in health insurance coverage last week when HR representatives presented “Benefits 101” during a joint meeting of the three groups.

The benefits briefing was aimed at informing council members so they can better respond to constituents’ questions regarding health care coverage.

In 2006, USNH’s total cost for employee benefits was $88.6 million. Health care and dental insurance accounted for almost $39 million, or 44 percent, of that. The projected amount for 2008 is $47 million; even a 10 percent increase is $4.7 million.

Medical premiums increased by 76 percent from Jan. 1, 2001 to Jan. 1, 2007. The total cost of a single HMO standard plan in 2001 was $3,029. By January 2007, it had risen to $5,326. Comparatively, a family plan cost $9,008 in 2001 and $15,958 at the start of 2007. In 2008, that figure will rise to about $18,000.

During the same time period, employee contributions for a family went from $208 to $2,533 and single coverage rose from zero to $426.

Reductions in the net cost to USNH are due largely to the hiring of non-benefits eligible employees, who number just over 2,200. Projections are that medical premiums will continue to rise at double-digit rates but UNH revenue will not.

One area that will be explored by HR is whether money can be saved by using one hospital over another for medical tests because the cost differs hospital to hospital.

The report noted that maintaining a competitive benefits program is still USNH’s goal.

“We think we’re doing a whole lot right but it’s a big problem,” says Joan Tambling. USNH’s HR director. “Employees are doing their part. We’ve done so many things and it’s still a problem.

Prior to the presentation, Mark Huddleston met with the OS Council in an informal get-to-know-you discussion. Calling communication critical, the new university president spoke of UNH as a community that requires efforts across the board to make it work.

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