Chair’s update November 3rd FB meeting

The minutes from the October 20th FB meeting were approved and are now posted on the Faculty Governance Webpage.

The committee was updated that two additional years of historical data for Fr. Ryan’s proposed comparison group had been provided, giving four years of data in total. At the previous Faculty Council meeting Jennifer McClinton-Temple and Trent Snider reported on a meeting they had with John Loyack and Kristin Fino to discuss health care benefits. Their main takeaway from this meeting is that everything is based on benchmarks.  Council discussed the meeting and had some questions for FB to ask Kristin Fino. These questions were sent to Kristin and she e-mailed the following responses prior to the meeting. 

  1. Is there data available from Kaiser for just academic institutions?

Kaiser does not have data available that is just based on Academic Institutions.  CUPA is the best source for information for Academic Institutions.  (during the FB meeting Kristin added that CUPA has not collected data on health care benefits in the past, but has said that they will start doing so next year)

2. What are the four institutions used for benchmarking healthcare benefits and how were they selected?

The data from these institutions was shared in confidence and it is proprietary.  They were selected as they were local comparable institutions to benchmark.

3. How do faculty salaries compare between King’s and these schools?

Our benefit consultant who obtains competitive healthcare benefit benchmarking does not have access to salary data for these institutions. 

4. Do all of the plans at the comparison schools include access to a major medical center and children’s hospital or do some of them exclude access similar to King’s Value plan?

These other schools do have plans that limit the scope of the network.  The choice of plan is designed so that individual members can decide what plans and cost best suit their individual needs.  The Value Plan at King’s actually does allow individuals to access major medical centers and children’s hospitals throughout the country but the plan imposes a higher out of pocket expense when the member chooses to leave the 13 counties of Northeastern PA for care.  The Value Plan actually is a great decision for many individuals as they pay a premium based on a lower cost, more limited network but if they at some point need the larger national network, they still have access to it. 

The FB committee then asked about the differences between the various plans at King’s and Kristin clarified the differences between in-network and out-of network for the Core/Premium plans compared to the Value plan. The committee was told that Core/Premier plan are in network for any provider and facility who is part of the National BlueCard Network.  Out of Network is any provider and facility that does not participate in the Blue Cross Network. A question was brought up that there are times that out of network has additional costs beyond deductible/% share stated when using out of network providers (e.g.  the hospital charges $100, insurance will only provide $80 for this service, user will have to provide normal share plus the extra $20).  Kristin said that when on the value plan and using a Blue Cross provider outside of the 13 counties, this should not be an issue.

The committee was told that comparing health care plans is challenging because there are so many moving parts. For most employees the keys factors to look at are premium costs, deductibles, and out of pocket maximums.

In response to a question, the committee was told that health care costs are increasing everywhere – not just locally. Nationally change started roughly 10 years ago, locally change started 5-6 years ago. For several years, King’s health care costs were steady but then increased significantly over the last several years. From 2012-2015 King’s health care claims were ~$2.3 million per year. For 2015-2016 they increased to ~$3.2 million and for 2016-2017 to ~$4.1 million. For the currently fiscal year (2017-2018) they were projected to be $4.5 million. However, for the first three months of the fiscal year, claims are running higher than projection (~$1.3 million in claims so far).

There was a discussion on how premiums are set. The committee was told claims are evaluated per plan and category (value, core, premier and single, children, spouse, family).Creative Benefits gives us Highmark rates and then King’s works with Creative Benefits to determine rates to determine cost share.

The committee was told that recently more claims were for dependents resulting in the cost-sharing being shifted to 30/70 for dependent plans. A question was asked if this is the case, why did the total premiums (not just the employee portion) increase by a larger % for individual plans than for dependent plans? Kristin said she would have to look more closely at the numbers before she could provide an answer.

It was asked if being self-insured is finically beneficial to King’s and its employees. The committee was told that it is estimated that King’s has saved ~$5 million since being self-insured (maybe ~10 years ago).  Stop-loss insurance allows us to remain self-insured in case of heavy use, kicks in after $135,000 for an individual.  This was used much more last year than historically, causing the cost to King’s to double this year.  Each year, many health care plans (national and local) are evaluated as well as checking if we should remain self-insured.  Usually, national plans don’t work out for an institution our size as local providers obtain better discounts with local insurance companies.

It was asked how the 25/75 aggregate cost sharing between employees and King’s was calculated. Kristin Fino said she would look into this.

The committee was told that slides and a video Creative Benefits used during open enrollment to explain the changes to benefits can be found at

The committee was also told that if there are questions about insurance coverage (what procedures are covered, locations, etc.) you should go through Creative Benefits for best results (1-844-231-8414).

There was a question that 4 local institutions are used for health care benchmarking, but salaries are benchmarked with a national list; according to data from the AAUP, King’s average faculty salaries are below (sometimes well below) the local schools and so is it fair to benchmark health care benefits with these schools when salaries are significantly lower.  Kristin said she was unsure exactly what goes into the AAUP salary data (stipends, etc.) so she can’t comment at this time. The AAUP salary report and data will be provided to Kristin for her to evaluate.

All other agenda items were tabled until our next meeting.

The next FB meeting is December 1st at 2:10 pm in the Moreau Auditorium: Campus Ministry Center