CU Employees Being Asked To Pay More Health Care Costs

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Credit union employees and their families are shelling out more money for health benefits than ever before, according to a new survey by D. Hilton Associates Inc.

The findings that credit unions are asking their employees to share more of the burden came as no surprise to the survey's sponsor.

"Costs are increasing and it seems that some of the options are narrowing,'' said Anne Ralston, director of research and development with D. Hilton Associates.

She said the survey revealed that the number of credit unions paying 100% of employee medical coverage costs has decreased by nearly 17% over the last two years. Today, only 18% of credit unions pick up the full amount.

The shift in cost sharing is further reflected in an increase of the in-network deductible amount that employees and families must pay. Ralston said 12% of CU employees pay deductibles of $1,000 or more, up from zero in the same survey two years ago.

Between 1997 and 2000, only 5% of credit unions required employees to pay some part of the premium, according to the most recent statistics available from CUNA Research and Development in Madison, Wis.

Not An Isolated Trend

While D. Hilton's employee benefits survey results did not compare the CU industry to other employers, recent news reports indicate the trend is not isolated. Among the reasons are a slumping economy, rising medical costs, an aging population and more people using more services.

Last year, premiums nationwide increased 12.7%, the highest since 1990, according to Health Research and Educational Trust, a non-profit group involved in research and education in the health management arena. Single premiums in 2002, on average, cost $3,060 for single coverage and $7,954 for family coverage.

That meant employees with single coverage paid an additional $95 per year. Those with family coverage were hit with another $283 per year.

Ralston said the CU Staff Benefits Survey results were based on the responses of CUs with at least $10 million in assets. Of 3,033 surveys mailed to CUs nationwide in the summer of 2002, 104 responded, she said.

The full report also includes statistics on such things as medical and dental benefits, paid holidays, vacation and sick leave, paid time-off plans and short- and long-term disability. The information categorized by CU size to allow comparisons by industry peers, Ralston said.

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