Board of Regents
James B. Milliken
A report from the October 2011 meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Board of Regents discusses proposal to expand benefits eligibility to include employees’ partners
During its Oct. 28 meeting, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents heard a proposal from President James B. Milliken and Vice President for Business and Finance David Lechner to expand eligibility for participation in the university’s benefits program to include employees’ partners.
The “employee plus one” proposal would extend benefits to qualifying same- and opposite-gender partners of employees. Documents such as a joint loan obligation, mortgage or lease, or proof of a joint bank or credit account – plus a sworn statement attesting to the truthfulness of the documents – would be required before coverage could be extended. Individuals such as an employee’s parents, grandparents or other relatives would not be eligible for “plus-one” designation.
“I support extending equitable benefits to University of Nebraska employees,” Milliken said. “This includes providing benefits for employees’ partners. Every other Big Ten university provides such benefits, as do a majority of the peers of the NU campuses. We should provide similar benefits not only to be competitive in attracting and keeping top faculty and staff, but because treating our employees equitably is the right thing to do.”
Nationally, more than 300 higher education institutions offer partner benefits, including public universities and systems in at least 30 states and most of the highly ranked research institutions. In the private sector, more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies and almost 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer health insurance benefits to employee partners. In Nebraska, a number of major companies offer such benefits, including ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Ameritas, HDR and Kiewit.
Faculty senates on all four campuses as well as student governments in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney have adopted resolutions urging the university to enact a “plus one” proposal. The change was endorsed recently by the University-wide Fringe Benefits Committee, and all four NU chancellors support it.
The university estimates that extending health insurance benefits to employee partners would cost about $750,000 to $1.5 million, based on an estimated increase of 1 to 2 percent, or about 100 to 200 new employee sign-ups. Total costs for the university’s health insurance plan today are more than $120 million.
The Board of Regents may vote on the proposal at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Dec. 8. If approved, the benefits would become available beginning July 1, 2012. Complete information on the plus-one proposal is available here.