Changes on horizon for school district’s health-care program

As structural changes to health care insurance delivery continue to roll out under the Affordable Health Care Act implementation, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District faces several big changes in its self-funded plans.

The district’s Board of Education met recently to discuss options for some of the largest changes on the horizon — including a mandate set to roll out in 2015 that will require the district to offer some type of coverage to all employees who work more than 30 hours a week. For schools, the mandate means that temporary and variable hour employees, like substitute teachers, will have to be offered health insurance coverage.

The district has already implemented several changes to its health insurance plan.

Nearly 100 people were added to the plan when the ACA mandated that dependent children had to remain eligible for coverage up to age 26, said Colleen Savoie, principal account executive at Parker, Smith and Feek, the Anchorage-based brokerage used by the district.

In addition, the district eliminated its $2 million lifetime limit and annual dollar limits, began completely covering preventative health care services, and limited the amount of money that employees can contribute, pre-tax, to flexible spending accounts.

“All of these changes, while they are beneficial for the individuals involved, they do also cost money,” Savoie said.

Parker, Smith and Feek also provided a comparison of medical benefits for public plans between KPBSD and several other institutions including school districts in Juneau, Anchorage, Mat-Su and Kodiak as well as the University of Alaska, the state, the borough and the Central Peninsula Hospital Denali Plan.

While the district’s coverage is comparable to those institutions in some areas, there were others in which it is much more competitive.

For instance, the per-person and per-family deductibles of $200 and $600, respectively, in the school district’s standard plan, are among the lowest among those institutions compared.

For the standard plan through Central Peninsula Hospital, those deductibles are $750 and $1,500 and through the University of Alaska, employees pay $750 and $2,250, according to the report.

The plans are not necessarily directly comparable, however, and some things covered under the district’s plan are not covered under other plans and vice versa.

“Health plans are not easy to compare, they don’t just line up next to each other and say ‘I have this and you have that,’” said assistant superintendent Dave Jones.

Board of education members discussed several recommendations for reducing the growing health care costs the district is facing.

Savoie offered several cost-saving recommendations in her report including that the district separate dental and vision benefits from its basic medical plan, offering a high-deductible health plan and adjusting its contribution rates to discourage employees from participating in the higher cost plans.

“High-deductible plans cause people to think about their health care spending,” Savoie said. “As we all know, when we are spending our own money, we think about it a bit more than when we’re spending somebody else’s money.”

Rashah McChesney is the city editor at the Peninsula Clarion.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read