Trustees switch employee insurance plans to cut costs
After getting support for the idea from some employees, Cy-Fair school district trustees OK'd switching to a statewide health insurance plan that could save the district $20 million next year.
Before the board met on Feb. 21, some 125 district personnel and Teachers Retirement System of Texas representatives met about the issue, Associate Superintendent Stuart Snow said.
Many employees voiced support for joining the plan, Snow said.
The self-insured school district has about 8,100 employees enrolled in two plans. Contributions to the self-insured program have not covered expenses for the last five years, Snow said. Deficits ranging from $1 million to nearly $11 million were covered by general-fund transfers, he said.
Trustee Larry Youngblood was the only dissenting vote on the seven-member board's move to the new plan, saying he felt the decision was forced upon them.
"If we had made employees pay a small amount more over the last five years, we wouldn't be faced with this gun to our head," he said.
Snow said the district has had tight budgets for the last few years. Employees have not received raises in two years.
"We felt we couldn't ask them to pay more," he said. "And when they did get a raise, do you increase their health-care premiums and take it away?"
The TRS program offers four preferred provider plans through Blue Cross Blue Shield. The pharmacy plan is through Medco Health. March 1 is the deadline to join TRS for the 2011-12 year.
Excluding the district's share, employees now pay each month from $104 for employee-only coverage to $550 for employee-family coverage in the district's HRA.
Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are lower in that TRS PPO, but the district's plan pays more for covered services, 90 percent versus 80 percent for the PPO.
Youngblood had concerns of being "locked into the state plan even if it raises premiums."
The TRS PPO plan that most resembles CFISD's health reimbursement account would cost $102 per month for employee-only coverage and $490 per month for an employee and family. These rates reflect a $50 monthly increase per employee compared with original figures initially discussed.
TRS indicated it would raise premiums 9.5 percent next year, which district officials had anticipated, Snow said.
Superintendent David Anthony said the district will pay the increase through the general fund.
Trustee Lida Woodul asked if an increase comes the following year, would the district pay for that. Anthony said that increase would be passed onto employees.
Youngblood said, "Aren't we kind of kicking the can down the road again?"
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