Survey Shows Rise in Healthcare Costs and Corporate Wellness Programs

by: Nichole Gunn September 20, 2011

The 2011 Comprehensive Survey of College and University Benefits Programs conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) revealed significant information. Of the 415 surveyed institutions, that employee staff with a higher education, there was a healthcare premium cost jump of 7.3 percent from the prior year.

This jump encompassed the three primary plan types: POS, PPO, and HMO, and it included worker-only coverage and worker/family coverage. The increase in the prior years was 6.7 and 7 percent respectively. The statistics are based on median annual plan premiums.

CUPA-HR president and chief executive officer Andy Brantley explained, “It is frustrating that the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, forcing many higher education institutions to cut benefits or shift more of the cost to employees.” He strongly advised that institution leaders who haven’t yet adopted wellness programs and participation incentives in those programs “do so as a way of managing some of their institution’s healthcare costs."

It was noted that this year’s percentage increases are greater than the past two years: worker-only annual premiums increased to $5,868, and worker/family annual coverage jumped to $16,388.

Additional survey findings show an increase in respondents offering ‘same sex’ and ‘opposite sex partners’ healthcare benefits to 56 and 43 percents respectively. This is the fifth consecutive year reflecting an increase in these demographics.

In response to this increase, Brantley noted, “On a positive note, I am very pleased to see that more and more colleges and universities are making healthcare benefits available to same sex and opposite sex partners."

Findings also demonstrate that most of the respondents provide ongoing retiree healthcare benefits for those under the age of 65, and just under 50 percent of the respondents provide coverage for retirees aged 65 and older.

Seeking strategies to offset this year’s increases, the survey found that over 60 percent of respondent institutions have adopted a corporate health and wellness program. The programs are geared to foster a healthier and more productive workplace environment, primarily focusing on combating obesity. Additional wellness program initiatives include wellness incentives to encourage employee participation.

Working in collaboration, Corporate Wellness Magazine and the Corporate Health and Wellness Association are conducting their own survey titled, 2011 Creating a Culture of Health and Wellness. The purpose of the survey is to enlighten institution and business leaders to the healthcare industry’s concerns and trends. Survey participants are offered a 20 percent reduction in the 2011 Corporate Wellness Conference registration fee.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.