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September 16, 2010

Pitt benefits compare well with peers’, survey shows

Pitt’s employee health benefits plans compare favorably with those at peer institutions, according to a report presented at last week’s Faculty Assembly.

Linda Rinaman, chair of the University Senate benefits and welfare committee, reported on highlights of a survey conducted by Pitt’s Benefits department. (See April 15 University Times for a related story on Pitt health benefits.)

“This survey was developed by the Benefits department and was administered in January. John Kozar, director of Benefits, recently went through the results of the survey for our committee,” Rinaman told Assembly members Sept. 7. “It was sent to 60 AAU-member schools, with 25 schools responding for about a 42 percent response rate, which is quite good compared to many health surveys. Many of these schools had just recently renewed their plans, so the data are current.”

Of the 25 responding institutions, the average plan enrollment of 11,900 members is comparable to Pitt’s 11,340 enrollees, she added.

Some highlights of the survey, Rinaman reported, include:

• 22 of the surveyed universities offer a PPO (preferred provider organization) plan, while only 10 of them offer an HMO (health maintenance organization), or managed health care program. Pitt offers both, with 90 percent of covered employees enrolled in the Panther Gold HMO plan and 10 percent enrolled in a PPO plan option.

• Comparative data indicate that Pitt’s peers on average offer the same contribution breakdown for premiums, with 80 percent funded by the institution and 20 percent funded by employee contributions.

•  Co-payments at Pitt generally are lower than those at most peer institutions. A few examples include:

—The average survey respondent’s PCP co-payment is $20; at Pitt the co-payment is $15.

—Average specialists’ co-payment is $25, the same as at Pitt.

—Average emergency room co-payment is $100; at Pitt co-payments are $50 or $35 depending on the plan.

—Average rehabilitation therapy services co-payment is $20; at Pitt it is $10.

• Many peer institutions’ PPO plan designs include a $350 individual deductible. For comparison purposes, Panther Premium PPO has a $250 deductible; Panther Plus PPO, a $400 deductible.

“One thing where we really come out on top is the benefits program for our retirees,” Rinaman said. “At Pitt, over 90 percent of age 65-plus retirees pay no premium on their medical coverage, whereas at the surveyed schools, retirees contribute on average about 50 percent of the cost.”

In other Assembly business:

• Senate President Michael Pinsky announced faculty appointments to the new University-wide open access task force, which is charged with developing policies governing open-access publishing of Pitt-generated research. Creation of the task force was en-dorsed by both Faculty Assembly and Senate Council. (See April 15 and April 29 University Times.)

The Senate-appointed members are Steven Reis of the School of Medicine; Adam Shear of religious studies, and Karen Shephard of the School of Law.

Provost’s office appointments to the task force are Michael Madison of the law school; Cynthia Miller, director of the University of Pittsburgh Press, and Rush Miller, director of the University Library System.

• Pinsky also reported that five faculty members have been named to two-year terms on the University Review Board, a standing group of 15 members — five faculty, five graduate students and five undergrads — who hear appeals of decisions made by the Judicial Board.

The faculty members are Anthony Bledsoe of biological sciences; Robert Daley of computer science; Elizabeth Nagle of the School of Education; Robert Seitz of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and John Slimick of computer science at Pitt-Bradford.

• The Senate fall plenary session will be held noon-3 p.m. Oct. 26 in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room. Titled “Social Entrepreneurship at Pitt: Innovators, Change-Makers and Local Heroes,” the event will be moderated by Audrey Murrell, associate professor and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership at the Katz Graduate School of Business.

Pinsky said, “The session will explore the various ways in which students, faculty and units across the University are engaged in research, projects and partnerships that tackle major social issues and offer new ideas for local and national change.”

• John Baker, chair of the Senate budget policies committee, summarized the annual faculty pay analysis report reviewed by BPC at its May 28 meeting. The report was prepared by Pitt’s Management Information and Analysis office derived from data published in the March-April issue of Academe (

(See June 10 University Times.)

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 43 Issue 2

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