For the second time since September, St. Landry Parish School officials will consider offering an optional health care plan they say is aimed at reducing annual premium costs for both employees and the district.
The matter of whether to provide school workers with the option of enrolling in a gap insurance medical plan offered by Taylor and Sons, Inc. is scheduled to be discussed at a regular school board meeting Aug. 5.
Kevin Thompson, who represented Taylor and Sons during a Tuesday Personnel and Benefits Committee meeting, said those who select the optional Med-Plus plan can still remain with the state’s Office of Group Benefits, which handles insurance and prescription claims and Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which provides insurance coverage for most of the district’s nearly 2,000 workers.
A similar plan that touted reduced insurance costs was presented to board members by Thompson and Taylor and Sons last year, but the offer was rejected due to a restricted enrollment process and the district’s decision to virtually begin the upcoming school session.
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Also some board members wondered at the time whether there were possibly other companies who offered similar plans in order for them to make a comparison to the gap insurance presented by Taylor and Sons.
Board member Mary Ellen Donatto had a similar question during Tuesday’s meeting when she asked Superintendent Patrick Jenkins whether he knew of other insurance companies offering employee gap plans that are normally used to pick up the costs for additional individual insurance spending.
Donatto also questioned the timing of the Oct. 1 employee enrollment period which would be preceded by employee engagement sessions beginning in August by Taylor and Sons.
“I just find this as kind of quick to get everyone educated, especially in light of the (COVID) situation that we are in,” Donatto said.
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Jenkins said he isn’t certain whether there are other companies offering gap plans similar to the one used by Taylor and Sons.
The school district pays 75% of the monthly premium costs for active and retired employees.
Jenkins said the Med Plus plan with the gap option gives both the school district and the workers a chance for saving money on health insurance costs.
“For a family, this plan could save them almost $3,000 a year and that’s money that they can put back into their pockets. This is just something that is supplementary to what they have already,” Jenkins added.
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In her annual budget message for 2020-21 District Finance Director Tressa Miller said she expects employee insurance costs rise about 5.5%, something that will cost the school system an additional $280,000.
Board member Kyle Boss said talk of changes for their insurance plans is an issue that quickly captures the attention of school employees.
Boss said he began have numerous inquiries about the possibility of the board deciding to move to other options with their insurance even before the start of the Tuesday meeting.
“You talk to insurance (with employees) and they don’t want to hear anything about it,” Boss said.
Thompson said Taylor and Sons has 19 Louisiana school districts participating in the Med-Plus plan, which is paid for by the school systems that have their workers enrolled.
Workers who sign up for the Med-Plus option receive lower premiums whose costs which would be assumed by the school district, zero deductibles and co-insurance, no co-payments while the same providers would deliver prescription drug coverage.
Board members Myron Guillory, Raymond Cassimere and Milton Ambres said they saw no reason why an optional insurance plan should be excluded from the Aug. 5 meeting agenda.
Donatto added that she wants the employees to understand “positively clear” that they are not obligated to make any alterations to their current insurance plans.