School Board Unanimously Makes Cuts To Teacher Insurance; Spouses Can Only Stay On If They Have No Other Insurance

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night voted to Increase the premium for spouses by $100 - a move officials said would save the schools from $2,040,000 to $3,040,000.

Spouses will not continue to be covered if they have insurance available to them on their jobs.

School officials said the 1,700 spouses on county school insurance last year had $10 million in claims.

Also, there will be a change on the BlueCross plan from Network P to Network S (with fewer physicians and hospitals).

That saves the schools $1,334,816. Parkridge and East Ridge Hospitals are not in Network S.

The emergency room co-pay on the HMO plan will rise from $100 to $250

Option 1 also includes: change pharmacy on BlueCross plan from CVS Caremark to BCBST - save schools $1 million.

Total savings to the county schools were pegged at $4,572,110- to $5,072,110

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

The county school budget that was approved earlier was based on cutting insurance costs by $4 million.

Supt. Rick Smith opened the meeting by recommending that the board approve the first of three options before the board - the one that was adopted.

Chairman Mike Evatt said speakers would not be allowed from the floor. The room was packed with many teachers and their supporters with some of them holding signs denouncing the insurance cuts.

When board member Rhonda Thurman spoke, many in the audience jeered her.

Prior to his vote, Mr. Evatt said there should be mutual respect by those on both sides of the issue.

Outgoing School Board member Jeffery Wilson said, "This is a troubling issue. It hurts that teachers feel unappreciated. This is hard on everybody. I wish there was another way."

He added, "I don't think this is done to hurt anyone. This is not that we don't value teachers."

Here were the other two options on the table:

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


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