School board member says St. James wasting $$ in contract

Published 11:45 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LUTCHER — Not everyone on the St. James Parish School Board is happy with the district’s insurance agent of record contract, passed at the most recent meeting.

School board members voted 6-1 to approve the agreement with Sonny Detillier Agency, with District 7’s Richard Reulet Jr. voting in opposition of the contract.

“I cannot see paying an agent of record $400 an hour to do nothing,” Reulet said before the vote. “I just think the board needs to reconsider that and not have an agent of record. (Plan participants) can call the insurance companies directly and get more information.”

Jim Mitchell, administrative director of business operations for the School Board, said an agent of record in the district’s group-help plan is the initial source for health assistance, acting as the go-to for plan members to the carrier itself.

“We are partially self-insured, which means we actually right the checks up to a certain amount on each group health claim,” Mitchell said. “The agent of record is basically our liaison and go-between for any issues between our plan members and Blue Cross.”

According to the contract, the agent of record provides the School Board a monthly report on time expended for administration and claims resolution issues and education of plan participants. The report is required to include a daily hours worked column, with a brief description of services rendered.

The agent is paid three quarters of one percent of each current monthly premium for the 12-month period from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, with total commissions capped at $40,000.

“The thing about it is, (the agent of record) can’t give (plan participants) information without calling benefit management for the answers because he can’t answer for benefit management,” Reulet said. “He can only assist and get information for them, but he can’t answer the questions that benefit management can answer.

“If we paid him only $5,000, which would be something like $50 an hour, maybe I could live with something like that. He’s going to get $40,000 every year, and that is the max he can get.”

Reulet said he would never support paying $400 an hour for that type of job.

“I don’t think it is worth it,” he said. “It is causing insurances to go up by doing this. We need to be responsible with our constituents’ money. We’re not being responsible by paying this.”

District 2’s Kenneth Foret Sr., chairman of the School Board’s insurance committee, did not return phone calls and an email seeking comment about the contract.