The School of the Osage board of education and administration have kept a watchful eye on the school district’s health insurance escrow account for more than a year as it has steadily dwindled despite subsidy from another account.
Board member Rocky Miller summed it up at this week’s regular monthly board meeting: “We need to fix the health escrow situation.”
The account balance was an alarming $180,354 with three months to go in the school year. That compares to $362,00 a year ago, even though the board voted to pump in a half million dollars last year to keep the fund solvent.
Superintendent Brent Depeé set the tone of the discussion early in last week’s meeting when he told the board “we obviously need to do something.”
Former Superintendent Mary Ann Johnson was the first to raise concern about a year ago. It was hoped that the board’s $500,000 subsidy would bridge the gap. It has not as the balance continues to decline and the amount of claims has continued to skyrocket.
For the first nine months of the current school year, claims total $1,235,032. That compares to $834,682 for all of the 2010-11 school year. At the same time, the number of eligible staff members has risen slightly during that time from 294 in 2011 to 302 in 2012.
Depeé was quick to note that the increase isn’t the result of a few claims, as some within the district have suggested. There have been 41 claims for health insurance this year, the bulk of which were in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. There have only been two claims of more than $100,000, the district’s stop-loss amount.
“We’re all in this together,” he said.
The superintendent is in the process of sharing the information with the district’s staff members so they have a better understanding of what might be ahead.
“I’m hoping the biggest bills have come through,” he told the board.
The amount paid out for prescriptions also has steadily increased. For the first nine months of 2011-12, prescription costs are $388,802 or $43,200 per month. That’s up slightly from last year’s 12-month total of $371,285 or $30,940 a month
His initial recommendation is to wait another month before considering additional subsidies. He also has some long-term suggestions for the board to consider to help boost the escrow account to more comfortable levels.
In a PowerPoint presentation, the superintendent offered a few suggestions:
•Raise the contribution rate by employees
•Change the pharmaceutical plan (possible use of generic vs. name brand drugs, and a three-tiered co-payment plan)
•Change the medical plan
•Educate the staff on improved wellness, and encourage better use of the prescription plan.
“The contribution rates will have to go up, but I don’t have any recommendations yet,” he told the board.
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