Health insurance costs are reaching an all-time high with annual premiums hitting an average of $18,764 this year, a 3 percent increase from 2015 for an average family, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Now, the nationwide hike is impacting Franklin College employees who will switch to a new insurance plan effective Nov. 1.
Dan Schluge, vice president of business and finance, said the college is making a switch from South Central Indiana School Trust, where Franklin College covers the cost of its employees’ health care benefits, to United Healthcare. United Healthcare is a fully-insured insurance company, meaning the college will pay a fixed-premium to the company, employees pay a deductible and the insurance company covers the medical claims.
“Faculty and staff are the college’s greatest investment of resources and health insurance is a critical factor in retaining and recruiting employees, as well as maintaining productivity and satisfaction,” Schluge said in a Sept. 8 email to college employees. “Offering the ‘right’ health insurance plan is one of the most important decisions the college can make – keeping you happy and healthy benefits the college in the long run.”
He said the new plans will allow the college to save money on health care costs and are easy for employees to manage.
The college’s previous insurance provider announced it would increase its rates by approximately 7.5 percent more than current rate. Under United Healthcare, rates will only increase by about 6.9 percent.
Instead of taking the larger increase, Schluge said the college decided to switch companies.
Journalism professor Hank Nuwer said an increase in his insurance has a large impact on his marriage.
Nuwer’s wife currently lives in Poland, and she planned on moving to the United States this year, but Nuwer said the price hike has delayed her to move in 2018.
“Instead of getting a nice car upon her arrival to the U.S, she will be driving that insurance policy,” he said.
Nuwer is already taking necessary steps to save his money, which means switching from his typical Starbucks routine to an order at Waffle House. He said he’s also cut back his trips to Poland to visit his wife. Now he only goes to see her if it’s an emergency.
“This doesn’t affect my love for the college,” Nuwer said. “It’s a bad situation, but it couldn’t have been avoided.”
When Rachel Hoffmeyer, executive editor of the college’s Statehouse bureau, started at the college two years ago, the college covered all insurance costs for employees under its self-insured policy.
Prior to becoming an educator, Hoffmeyer worked in the television news industry where she said contributing to health insurance costs was standard practice.
“Paying for insurance is fairly common in the business world these days,” Hoffmeyer said. “When I started at Franklin, I was surprised to discover the college did cover insurance because that’s becoming less common in today’s business world.”
Hoffmeyer attended one of the college’s four employee forums in September to learn more about the insurance changes. She said the meeting was very helpful because she heard questions from coworkers that she hadn’t thought about.
“While nobody’s excited to have to pay more, I anticipated it would happen at Franklin College eventually.”
Franklin College employees have until Oct. 15 to enroll under the open enrollment period. The new plan takes effect Nov. 1, and employees on a biweekly payroll system will see the new rate applied to their Nov. 10 paycheck.