By Charles Lussier
Advocate staff writer
August 13, 2012
East Baton Rouge Parish school Superintendent Bernard Taylor has come up with four new ways the school system can save money on its medical insurance coverage and has set up five workshops Monday to explain these ideas to active and retired employees.
The proposals range from raising premiums by 25 percent across the board, a move that would affect about 10,000 people, to raising premiums only for the school district’s almost 5,000 retirees and sparing active employees.
The School Board plans to meet Thursday to consider what it wants to do.
Any changes wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1.
In June, the School Board approved a general operating budget. In addition to $28 million in cuts, the budget called for freezing medical spending at $60.5 million. That decision left an estimated $6.2 million shortfall for 2013.
Since then, the School Board has been unable to settle on ways to fill that hole.
On July 19, the board voted down a proposal to push 2,700 Medicare-eligible retirees into a Medicare supplemental insurance exchange, a move that would have saved an estimated $8.7 million a year.
Here are the newest options:
- Raise premiums on all employees, both active and retired, by 25 percent. Monthly premium increases would range from $17 to $163, depending on the plan. The move would raise $5.4 million a year. It’s labeled Option 1.
- No premium rate hikes, but increases on almost everything else. It’s the most complicated of the four new options. Changes include higher deductibles ranging between $200 a year and $400 a year, higher co-payments ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent more per visit, and higher out-of-pocket maximums ranging from $1,000 to $21,000 more. Only members of the less-generous Core plan would pay more for prescriptions drugs. Overall savings are unclear. It’s labeled Option 3.
- Raise premiums for all employees but increase them more for those on the more generous Buy-Up plan and less for those on the Core plan. For instance, active employees with no dependents who are Buy Up members would pay $43 more a month in premiums whereas an across-the-board increase would raise their monthly premiums just $34.
The same employee on the Core Plan, however, would have to foot an $8 monthly premium hike, compared with a $17 hike under an across-the-board increase.
The move would raise almost $5.4 million a year. It’s labeled Option 5.
- Raise premiums only for retirees. Monthly premium increases for retirees would range from zero to $128 a month, depending on the plan. The move would raise $5.4 million a year. It’s labeled Option 6.
A copy of the presentation on the four new options can be seen at http://news.ebrschools.org/eduWEB2/1000169/docs/hc_options_presentation_doc_813.pdf.
Of the five planned workshops Monday, three are for active employees. They are from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at three locations: McKinley Middle Magnet School, 1550 Eddie Robinson Drive; Scotlandville Magnet High School, 9870 Scotlandville Ave.; and Woodlawn High School, 15755 Jefferson Highway.
The forums are open to active employees from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.