Private sector trends such as providing more high-deductible health plans, vision carebenefits and same-sex health care are working their way into thefield of higher education, making inroads into the benefits offeredby colleges and universities, according to a new report fromHRDive.

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The survey finds that while preferred provider organizations arestill the most popular type of health care plans in the academicfield, HDHPs are on the rise. A College and University ProfessionalAssociation for Human Resources analysis of health care benefits inhigher education, the Survey of Higher Education EmployeeHealthcare Benefits, which collects data from a cross sectionof U.S. colleges and universities, finds that nearly two-thirds ofhigher education institutions now offer HDHPs, up 16 percent since 2015.

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The survey also notes that one-third of institutions coverpart-time staff and adjunct faculty. Academia is also ahead of theprivate sector in covering both opposite- and same-sex partners. In2017, health care benefits for opposite-sex partners rose by 50percent, while those benefits for same-sex partners rose by 75percent.

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Another marked increase is found in the area of vision care. Notonly are there more standalone vision care plans, but according tothe CUPA-HR study, that trend is driven by a trio of factors:higher health care costs, a larger, older population, and visionproblems caused by computer work. Together, these factors haveresulted in an increase of two thirds in vision care plans.

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HRDive says that, since “different institutions will havevarying budgets or endowments, colleges are also a unique microcosmof both long-term, tenured employment and hourly adjunctemployment.” That means they offer a range of coping mechanisms todeal with the ever-increasing cost of health care and changes — orthe lack thereof — in health care policy from a Republican Congressthat cannot seem to advance on agreeing to any significant changesto the Affordable Care Act.

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“How they cope with health care between both groups is aninteresting examination of how employers of all types must handlehealth care policy,” says the report.

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