School employees to pay more for health insurance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY-Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Employees of the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board will pay more than a 3 percent increase for the new health insurance coverage recently approved by the Shool Board. Under the new plan, an employee with family coverage will pay almost $12 per month more.

With one holdout, the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board approved a new health insurance contract with United Health Care.

The new contract is a 3.06 percent increase on employees, a fact not missed by board member Matthew Ory, who voted against the plan.

“I don’t feel the board is doing the employees right by putting this increase on the employees,” Ory said, and emphasized that in the past, the school district has always been able to absorb any increases.

The annual bill now hits $6.5 million, but the increase is only $193,083, according to finance director Felix Boughton.

With the 50-50 split with the district’s 1,167 employees on the premiums, single employees pay $5 per month, while a couple goes from $80.34 to $89.25 and a covered family goes from $158.76 to $170.38.

In addition, higher co-pays for physician visits and $100 per-person deductibles for prescriptions added to the burden, Ory said.

However, Ory was battling the tide of history, where health care costs have been spiraling ever upward for years. In the past seven years, the district’s health-care insurance premiums have climbed nearly 170 percent.

In other activity, board attorney Lloyd LeBlanc announced plans are under way for the next school board election, to be held as a special election soon.

LeBlanc said he should have specific election dates after consulting with the Secretary of State’s office, at the board’s May 15 meeting.

The school board elections have been on hold, first with the U.S. Justice Department quizzing the board over redistricting data going back beyond 1992, then with a lawsuit filed in August 2002 by residents who claimed the current redistricting plan was discriminatory.

Qualifying for the 2002 election was set for late August. The dates came and went and no election was held, with the current board remaining in place.

The problem lay in the fact that the 1995 redistricting plan adopted by the board was never approved by the Justice Department. This created the situation of having to first approve the 1995 plan, then the 2002 plan.

District lines are redrawn every 10 years, using current data from each U.S. Census, to account for population and demographic changes.