School Board Delays Decision On Big-Ticket Health Insurance Item For 1 Week

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

The Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night voted to delay a vote on a new insurance plan for employees until next Thursday.

Sandy Hughes, president of the Hamilton County Education Association, said, "I have a difficult time trying to think of what priority in spending is more important than the well-being of your employees and their children...You've not given us enough amount of time for the employees to even check."

 She asked the board to wait until next week so that employees would have time to see how their plans might change and to give input.

 Board member David Testerman said, "This is something that impacts our employees.They need to understand what's about to take place."

 Board member Rhonda Thurman said she had received many calls asking why the plan had to be changed at all.

 She said, "To do nothing is not an option. We have to do something. We have to do something because the school system cannot afford to keep going down this road. The school system cannot continue to absorb these costs. If we just sit back it will eventually eat up all of our budget."

 She continued, "None of us like doing it, but we're going to have to do it."

Ms. Thurman said the annual health insurance costs were "eating up any growth we get."

Consultant Ed Adams said the increase has been about six percent per year, and may be seven percent or more next year. 

 Board member Dr. Jonathan Welch made a motion to add a Health Savings Account to the third plan option, a high-deductible plan. However, the motion failed.

Option 1:

Increase premium for spouses by $100 - save schools from $2,040,000 to $3,040,000. 

Change BlueCross plan from Network P to Network S (with fewer physicians and hospitals) - save schools $1,334,816. Parkridge and East Ridge Hospitals are not in Network S.

Increase the emergency room co-pay on the HMO plan from $100 to $250

Change pharmacy on BlueCross plan from CVS Caremark to BCBST - save schools $1 million.

Total savings to the county schools would be $4,572,11- to $5,072,110

Officials said potential savings could be higher if high-expenses spouses leave.

Option 2:

Working spouse affidavit (self-employed spouses could stay) - save $924,720-$1,541,200

Increase drug co-pays - save $1,059,430 to $1,588,351

Change BlueCross plan from Network P to Network S (with fewer physicians and hospitals) - save schools $1,334,816. Parkridge and East Ridge Hospitals are not in Network S.

Change HMO emergency room co-pay from $100 to $250 - save schools $197,294

Change pharmacy on BlueCross plan from CVS Caremark to BCBST - save schools $1 million.

Option 3:

Deductible: $2,600 employee only/$5,000 family

Coinsurance: 80 percent in network/60 percent out of network

Annual premium: $600 employee only/$3,600 family

Health Savings Account employer contribution

Assume: $750 employee only/$1,500 family - save schools $2,557,500

Change from Network P to Network S

Pharmacy 20 percent generic/30 percent preferred brand/40 percent non-preferred brand

Must meet deductible first for pharmacy coinsurance

This model is for total replacement of the BlueCross PPO plan

 Chairman Mike Evatt was also honored at the meeting because of his upcoming retirement.

 He told everyone, "Thank you for the honor. It's been a honor and a privilege to serve."

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