For the second time since September, St. Landry Parish School officials will consider offering an optional health care plan that they say is aimed at reducing annual premium costs for employees and the district.
Whether to offer school workers the option to enroll in a gap medical insurance plan offered by Taylor and Sons Inc. is set to be discussed at a regular school board meeting on August 5. .
Kevin Thompson, who represented Taylor and Sons at a personnel and benefits committee meeting on Tuesday, said those who choose the optional Med-Plus plan can still stay with the state benefits office, which handles insurance and prescription claims and Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which provides insurance coverage for most of the approximately 2,000 workers in the district.
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 registration process and the district’s decision to virtually start the next school term.
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Also, some board members wondered at the time if maybe there weren’t other companies that offered similar plans so they could make a comparison with gap insurance. presented by Taylor and Sons.
Board member Mary Ellen Donatto asked a similar question at Tuesday’s meeting when she asked Superintendent Patrick Jenkins if he knew of any other insurance companies offering gap plans for employees who are normally used to cover the costs of additional individual insurance expenses.
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 it’s fast enough to educate everyone, especially in light of the (COVID) situation we find ourselves in,” Donatto said.
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Jenkins said he’s not sure if there are other companies offering spread plans similar to the one used by Taylor and Sons.
The school district pays 75% of monthly premiums for active and retired employees.
Jenkins said the Med Plus plan with the spread option gives both the school district and workers a chance to save money on health insurance costs.
“For a family, this plan could save them nearly $3,000 a year and that’s money they can put back in their pockets. It’s just something on top of what they already have,” 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 to increase by approximately 5.5%, which will cost the school system an additional $280,000.
Board member Kyle Boss said talking about changes to their insurance plans is an issue that quickly catches the attention of school employees.
Boss said he started getting a lot of inquiries about whether the board might decide to move on to other options with their insurance before Tuesday’s meeting even started.
“You talk to insurance (with employees) and they don’t want to hear 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 school systems that have enrolled their workers.
Workers who sign up for the Med-Plus option receive lower premiums whose costs would be borne by the school district, no deductibles or coinsurance, and no co-payments, while the same providers would offer prescription drug coverage.
Board members Myron Guillory, Raymond Cassimere and Milton Ambres said they see no reason why an optional insurance plan should be left off the August 5 meeting agenda.
Donatto added that she wants employees to understand “positively clearly” that they are not required to make changes to their current insurance plans.