Loyola increases employee health insurance premiums


Mikayla Ferro

Design by Mikayla Ferro

Brandon Tate

Loyola University New Orleans has raised the cost of health insurance premiums for its faculty and staff.

Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Carol Markowitz, said the increase was part of a study conducted by university that found Loyola’s benefits to be generally higher than other comparable employers. Markowitz also said the move is meant to offset overwhelming costs related to COVID-19.

Loyola is one of several Jesuit colleges across the United States facing financial troubles during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Griffin.

The university is facing a $6 million budget deficit for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, according to Markowitz.

“We had to take further action to minimize upcoming cost increase, given the financial pressures that COVID-19 has put on our budget,” said Markowitz.

Under the new policy, Loyola faculty and staff will pay the entire cost of dental coverage, a cost that is expected to range anywhere from $10 to $38 per month; this differs from in the past when they’ve paid it in part with the rest of cost subsidized.

Faculty and staff members paid no extra fee for spousal coverage last year.

Staff members will pay a one-hundred dollar monthly surcharge for spousal coverage under the new plan.

A faculty member who insisted on remaining anonymous said the increase in healthcare costs is only one of several employee benefits that have been cut by the university over the last several years.

“I am grateful to have a job during the pandemic, but we have already lost so much,” said the faculty member.

The faculty member also said that the university provided excellent benefits when they were first hired, but over time, some of those benefits had been taken away. This includes retirement contributions, according to the faculty member.

“It is already difficult for me to afford things,” the faculty member said.

“The increase in health insurance costs could be going toward groceries or another bill,” the faculty member continued.

The spousal surcharge will only affect faculty members with a spouse who can obtain health insurance from another employer, according to Markowitz.

The premium increase is “critical to generating the operating surpluses required to rationally re-invest in (Loyola’s) people,” said Markowitz

The increase in health insurance premiums will help Loyola avoid more severe budget cuts that have been made by other Jesuit universities, according to Markowitz.

“While we have been fortunate enough to avoid the widescale pay cuts and layoffs seen at many of our peer institutions, we cannot continue to entirely absorb other cost increases,” said Markowitz.

Before the change, healthcare costs were set to increase by as much as $1.2 million for the university, according to Markowitz

Loyola officials first sought to reduce that number by renegotiating contracts with health administrators and partners over the past year, but after renegotiations, it was still found that increasing premiums would be necessary, according to Markowtitz.

Markowitz said that increasing premiums for faculty was the only way for Loyola’s health insurance fund to remain stable.

She acknowledges that some faculty will be disappointed, but believes most employees will be understanding.

“Employees understand that the university could not continue to absorb substantive increases in the total cost of our health insurance plans,” said Markowitz.

The faculty member expressed the frustrations of others staff members at Loyola.

“I think people are upset about it. Every year employees have less and less money to work with,” said the faculty member.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated as of Feb. 5, 2021.