St. John Parish School Board chooses new healthcare provider

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Staff Reporter

RESERVE- The St. John Parish School Board insurance committee has chosen a new health care provider after selecting from several proposals submitted. However, the winner of the contract still has obstacles to face before being guaranteed the bid.

Blue Cross was awarded the contract under the conditions that Blue Cross could provide St. John School Board employees with a plan that included Thibodaux General as a client-specific health care provider. This means that the hospital would allow current and future employees in the St. John system access to medical treatment under a specific contract agreement with Blue Cross. The insurance committee looked closely at both Humana and Blue Cross/Blue Shield before making their choice.

Thibodaux General Hospital was not part of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield network of hospitals. Thibodaux General is the favored hospital of many St. John Parish School Board employees. Another challenge facing Blue Cross/Blue Shield was the Choice 65 Medicare package offered to its clients.

Currently, the school board retiree plan allows former employees access to Medicare products with no deductible and Choice 65 requires a deductible to be paid. If employees change to the Choice 65 plan, they cannot go back to the St. John school board’s plan.

The bid contract stipulates that if retirees currently under the board’s Medicare plan choose to try out Choice 65, they will be allowed to go back to the former plan up to a year-and-a-half after coverage with Blue Cross begins.

Humana Services offered a competitive package that encompassed and mirrored many of the benefits offered by the board’s current provider, United Health. One of the challenges that faced the committee was that employee deductible for coverage with Humana were very high.

The health insurance contract with United Health ends May 31.

The cost to the school board for the new health plan is $8 million compared to $7.2 million previously, a difference of $800,000. The board chose a new insurance company after United wished to increase their coverage cost by $1.6 million.