Press Release

July 3, 2019

Gap Narrows in Healthcare Offerings Between Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Domestic Partners at Higher Education Institutions, Though Overall Offerings for Domestic Partners Decrease

According to recent research by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), this year marks the first time since 2005 that there has been a decrease in healthcare benefit offerings for domestic partners at higher education institutions — both for same-sex (10 percentage-point decrease since 2017) and opposite-sex (6 percentage-point decrease since 2017) partners. CUPA-HR’s 2019 Healthcare Benefits for Higher Education Employees Survey also found that the gap between healthcare offerings for same- and opposite-sex partners has shrunk from 22 percentage points in 2017 to 18 percentage points in 2019.

In terms of the frequency with which healthcare plan types are offered at higher education institutions, little has changed since 2017. The most popular plan type, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, are offered by 83 percent of institutions. Point of Service (POS) plans remain the least popular, offered by only 12 percent of institutions.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • More than half of institutions offer two types of healthcare plans. Of the 55 percent that offer two plans, two-thirds (67 percent) offer both PPO and High Deductible Health (HDH) plans.
  • Offerings of stand-alone dental, vision and long-term care plans have decreased slightly over the past two years.
  • Also over the past two years, there has been a decline in the percentage of institutions offering healthcare benefits to retirees over the age of 65, retirees under the age of 65 and part-time employees.
  • Although the percentage of institutions with wellness programs has not changed much since 2017, resources for wellness programs (in the form of both budgets and dedicated staff) have declined.
  • Nearly all wellness programs have physical wellness education and activities as components. Fewer (around three-fourths) have financial wellness components. More than four in five institutions provide at least one incentive (financial or non-financial) for participating in their wellness program.

A total of 365 higher education institutions responded to this year’s survey. Data collected on wellness programs included budget amounts, staffing, components and incentives. CUPA-HR collects data on healthcare benefits biennially. In alternate years, data on time off, tuition reimbursement and retirement are collected.

To learn more about the Benefits in Higher Education Survey, read the overview. Comparisons and detailed trend information are available in the full report.


CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. CUPA-HR’s surveys of benefits for higher education employees have been conducted since 2003. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.

CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving over 31,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 2,000 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

Contact Information
Erin Rosolina
Marketing Manager – Communications and Marketing


The CUPA-HR office will be closed Fridays through August 19.