Faculty Benefits Committee Meeting

Minutes, September 17, 2003

3:30 5:00


The following committee members were present: Dale Atkins, Michael Chang, Chuck Donbaugh, Michael Elliott, Blair Funderburk, Marc Goetschalckx, John Grovenstein, and Gayle Warren.

Election of Chair

Michael Elliott was reelected to chair the Benefits Committee for 2003-2004.

Benefits Comparison Analysis and Annual Report

The Benefits Committee reviewed the draft Benefits Comparison Analysis and the draft Annual Report. The study compared Georgia Techs benefit levels to averages of 392 public and private universities from across the United States. In general, the study suggests that while health benefits are a growing concern, Georgia Tech provides benefits at or above the level of most colleges, that dental and vision plans are relatively weak, and that retirement plan options and time-off provisions are somewhat better than university averages. Parking costs are higher than the average, but these figures include many rural campuses. Parking costs for many campuses (presumably urban) are considerably higher.

Two areas of most concern include sabbatical leaves and domestic partners. Concerning leaves, out of 392 universities reporting in the survey, 250 provided information on whether they provided for sabbatical leaves. Of these, all provided for sabbatical leave. Concerning domestic partners, less than a third of universities provide any benefits to domestic partners. Georgia Tech extends benefits to domestic partners if those benefits are fully paid for by the employee, with no employer contribution.

Changes suggested by committee members will be incorporated into the Analysis and the Annual Report. Both will be submitted to the General Faculty for the September 30th General Faculty Meeting.

Issues Raised by Benefits Comparison Analysis

         To provide additional benefits to domestic partners would require action by the Board of Regents (and possibly the Department of Community Affairs, which sets up the state contracts for insurance). For this to be accomplished, faculty at several of the universities are likely to need to coordinate their efforts. Should this be attempted, and if so, how? If promoted, should we seek coverage for all domestic partners, including unmarried heterosexual couples (who have the option to marry), or expand coverage to gay and lesbian couples only, since they do not have the option to marry.

         Sabbatical policy is set by the state.

         Benefits generally are conservative, serving the standard family well but providing little flexibility for employees. Should we seek to enhance flexibility through flex spending plans or cafeteria plans?

         Prescription drug coverage is increasingly moving to restrict options through a formulary. This provides significant cost savings, but also imposes significant constraints. It is very difficult to get drugs not on the formulary.

Issues to Be Considered This Year

         Long term care insurance and end-of-life hospice care.

         Work-Life and Wellness Issues. Past improvements have included child care, breast milk pumping stations, and low-cost access to SAC for faculty and staff. Possible improvement include an improved version of the Get Fit Program, which is not as active as the old PEACH Program; a pre-tax version of MARTA tickets, transportation issues, and employee assistance plans.

         The Benefits Committee does not have any system to systematically explore the concerns of faculty and staff. Should we conduct a survey or develop some other system for obtaining input?

         Defining equity for compensation plans for classified employees (minorities, gender, time in grade). What is equity? How might we define this? Are there examples of best practices from other universities or corporations?

Upcoming Open Enrollment

Health insurance is moving from a 3-tiered system (single, 2-person and family) to a 4-tiered system (single, employee + child, employee + spouse, and family). Dental insurance will go from 2-tiers to 4-tiers. This will generally reduce premiums for individuals but increase it for families. Co-payments will increase (varies by policy, but most around $5).

The University System of Georgia dental plan will have an open enrollment this year. The dental network has been expanded.

The cost of life insurance will be measured from your age on December 30th instead of January 1st, effectively bumping everyone up a year.

Kaiser Permanente will now offer two policies: Premium (the old policy) and Standard (same service, but it will cost less for premiums but charge more for out-of-pocket costs). The Standard rate may be attractive to young employees who are generally healthier.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on October 15, 2003.