Insurance update recommended
Committee reviews district’s health plan
By Ben Rodgers
A committee has come up with a recommendation for an updated insurance plan for the Manawa School District.
At the July 3 meeting the Manawa School Board’s Finance Committee agreed to recommend a plan that includes a 15.7 percent cost increase from the current health coverage.
The plan will remain the same WEA Trust policy, but will be modified slightly.
The recommendation includes an increase in the deductible the employees pay, from the current $250 up to $300 for an individual and from $500 to $600 for a family.
Business Manager Carmen O’Brien crunched numbers provided by Mary Basel with M3 Insurance, the district’s health insurance consultant.
Under the recommendation district employees will also have to opt in and pay 10 percent of the cost for dental and vision, which are both covered 100 percent by the district on the current plan.
O’Brien’s numbers showed the district will end up paying an additional roughly $110,000 due to the increase.
“I think it’s in the best interest for the district,” O’Brien said. “I think it puts us in a position to work some numbers in the future, just by increasing those percentages a little bit. I think it’s beneficial to our staff.”
Michelle Poppy, kindergarten teacher, understood the rising costs and was content with the deductible increase.
“Nobody wants things to go up, but I think it’s fair,” Poppy said. “I’d rather go up to $600 on a family plan then go up to a $1,000.”
Even with the increase in cost for the district, employees across the board still stand to make more than they did last year due to a consumer price index raise of 1.26 percent and other incentives.
O’Brien’s work was lauded by Helene Pohl, finance committee chair.
“I need to acknowledge publicly the excellent work you have done on this,” Pohl said. “I have never seen the detail you have given us in terms of the impact on the employees’ paycheck and that’s important to all of us.”
But with the increase in cost, board member Bruce Scheller questioned raising taxes to make up the $110,000 additional cost to the district.
Joanne Johnson informed him that the district is currently taxing as much as it can, and the only way to increase funds available would be through an operational referendum.
District Administrator Dr. Melanie Oppor said the district will make up for the cost.
“The pot is only so big. We have to make payroll and there are certain products we need,” Oppor said. “Maybe there won’t be new lunchroom tables, or we had hoped to replace the board room furniture. … We may have to postpone some of those things.”
The district may also look at increasing employee deductible amounts in the future as that directly keeps the district’s cost down.
Another way to keep the cost down is encouraging employees to utilize the flexible spending account on their plans.
“I think we need to do more teaching about the advantages and how to calculate it,” Oppor said.