Wednesday, April 04, 2001

UK's health-care costs rise up to 45% for faculty, staff

Some drop coverage for dependents

By Steve Bailey
The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Soaring health care costs for University of Kentucky faculty members and staff have many employees dropping insurance for their spouses and children or looking for jobs with better salaries and benefits, a member of the school's board of trustees told the group Tuesday.

        Most faculty and staff members will get 4 percent raises for the 2001-2002 school year, but increases of 33 percent to 45 percent in the annual cost of the university's health plan will leave many faculty and staff taking home less money than they did last year, said Russ Williams, a staff representative to the board.

        “I sent out an e-mail asking faculty and staff to let me know how this was going to impact their families,” Mr. Williams said. “More than 500 people responded to me, some with horror stories that caused me to get up from my computer for a moment to regain my composure.

        “There are some whose spouses are not covered or whose children are not covered because they can't afford it. People are really worried and scared about how they are going to support their families in the upcoming months.”

        Under the new rate schedule released last week, the university pays the yearly cost — $206 — for a single employee to receive health care coverage under the basic UK-HMO Lexington/Regional Service Area plan. The cost for employees to add family members, however, makes it difficult for some employees to make ends meet, Mr. Williams said.

        Loys Mather, a faculty representative to the board, said the steep increases come at a time when the university already is having a hard time attracting and keeping talent.

        President Charles Wethington said nothing could be done about the cost increases until next year. Mr. Williams said he believes many faculty and staff members will look elsewhere for better salaries and benefits.

        “It's going to make us less competitive,” he said. “Our competitors for staff are not necessarily other benchmark universities. Our competitors are Lexmark and Toyota — local companies.”


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- UK's health-care costs rise up to 45% for faculty, staff
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