Health Insurance Hike

December 16, 2016

Starting on January 1, 2017, insurance rates for USD 416 employees are set to raise 18%. There are several different price and coverage options available to employees within this new plan, ranging from single with no dependents to a family plan. In total, there are 16 different options to choose from: four optioned plans with four types of coverage.

The news was met with concern as the rate increase came after a large percentage increase last year to insurance rates.

“I was not happy about the increase as I haven’t used it much, so the increase was just going to come right out of my paycheck without having any actual use of the insurance,” said high school science teacher Stephanie Newell.

When looking to renew the district’s insurance plan, superintendent Dr. Brian Biermann looked for many options trying to decide what would be best for employees. Of the plans considered, such as Greenbush Health and Signa, many were denied to the district. This left Biermann with two options: Blue Cross of Kansas, which offered a 48.7% increase, and United Healthcare, which offered an 18% increase to 36% increase. Biermann chose United Healthcare to keep prices somewhat low.

“They denied us because those groups don’t want unhealthy groups to come in because then their rates will go up,” said Biermann.

At an optional meeting held for staff, the plans were discussed and a survey sent out for staff to choose the increase option they wanted the district to make available.  The 18% option was chosen.

To try and counter the increase in rates, the board of education voted and raised the $400 a month they previously contributed for an employee taking the insurance to $425.

“Well, personally, I added my wife since she retired, so an additional $950 is being taken out of my check [each month]. In order to supplement what our insurance is with additional coverages to make sure that if I’m in an accident or have to go to the ER, I have extra money, I have to take a second job,” high school media specialist Rich Brown said.

During 2016, 102 employees were covered under the health care offered by the district. Of that, 92 were covered under the single employee plan, four were covered under the single with dependents plan, four were covered under the married plan, and one was covered under married with dependents plan. When the plan renews, only 96 employees will still be covered under this plan. The amount of people leaving the district plan, especially those who are healthy, poses problems for the future. With fewer people contributing to premiums and rates, prices will likely continue to grow.

Biermann said, “You want more healthy people paying into the premiums because even if it costs the district more money, it will keep the rates down.”

Though the 18% increase is in effect, Biermann hopes to work toward lowering this cost. Within the next few years, should claims go down, Biermann plans to continue applying for the larger insurance groups. If accepted, this will significantly help lower premiums.

The increase for this plan will begin to come out of an employee’s pay on December 20, 2016.