Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

Health insurance news is good for district

June 4, 2009

Baldwin School District employees may finally have some good news regarding health insurance.

On Monday night, the Baldwin School Board unanimously approved Greenbush Health as its insurance provider for the 2009-2010 school year. After months of looking for a provider, Supt. Paul Dorathy was pleased with the school board’s approval.

“This is very good news for our district and our employees,” he said. “This goes a long ways toward solving our health insurance issues. This was a major step for us.”

Board Member Ande Parks, who works on the board’s negotiating team, was happy to see this issue finalized.

“It’s a big relief for us and a big help for our teachers,” Parks said. “This has been a problem for a long time and we knew we couldn't hire or maintain good teachers without offering health insurance. Now we’ve got something that will be beneficial to our employees. I am very happy we were able to work through this as a district.”

The teachers’ union had approved the health insurance plan before the school board approved it Monday.

“All of this has gone through negotiations,” Dorathy said. “The negotiating teams met and came up with the wording on how this would be done. The district will pay a single-base premium for each full-time employee that was placed on the plan. Part-time employees can come on voluntarily, but for full-time employees it will be mandatory. The teachers ratified that on a vote of 87-1 and the board voted 7-0 to go with that last night.”

The cost of adding every employee to the insurance plan has been a concern of Dorathy’s for several months. He approximated the cost would be an additional $400,000 on top of the $360,000 the district is already paying for healthcare.

Dorathy reported the cost would be right at that on Monday. He said it depended on how many employees joined the plan, but the cost would be around $397,000.

As of Sept, 1, Baldwin will be joining a consortium of approximately 30 districts and 3,200 individuals. Blue Cross Blue Shield will cover the school district’s employee insurance.

“The bigger pool gives us better protection for stabilizing our rates,” said Dorathy. “That doesn’t mean we won’t see increases, but we’re not standing on our own.”

At the school board meeting, Dorathy said the district had to clear a few hurdles to join Greenbush Health. For those reasons, he wasn’t sure this would work a couple of months ago.

Dorathy said the first hurdle was simply being approved by the underwriters from Blue Cross Blue Shield. They had to look at the district’s claims and health questionnaires. The district hasn’t cleared this hurdle in the last few years.

Once that is approved, then Greenbush Health has their own underwriter, who looks at the group and says yes or no, based on those same things. If that is also cleared, then the consortium members vote.

“The present membership votes and if they vote us in, then we are in the trust,” he said. “Once you’re in the trust, you can’t be kicked out. You can leave voluntarily, but you sign up for two years at a time.”

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