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School Board health insurance sees small increase

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board Insurance Committee recently renewed dental insurance and health insurance plans for employees.

While the dental insurance renewal came without any increases or changes in services, the health insurance renewal came with a 9.2 percent increase that equates to a minimal rise in costs for School Board employees.

The Insurance Committee was asked to choose between the 9.2 percent increase and another option involving a closed formulary. The closed formulary would have cost 1.75 percent less but would have dropped coverage of some prescriptions, impacting more than 50 public school employees.

Melody Terral, a representative of Gallagher Insurance, Risk Management and Consulting, said the insurance company would work with doctors to switch the employees to generic brand prescriptions under a closed formulary plan.

“Nine times out of 10, you end up with a satisfied patient, but it’s a lot of education that goes on. It’s a lot of noise, a lot of fear,” Terral said.

Gallagher representative Wayne Francingues said the closed formulary plan is becoming more common in the workplace.

The Insurance Committee voted unanimously to keep the current formulary with the 9.2 percent increase.

School Board member Debbie Schum asked if the employee or the School Board would take on the extra expenses. School Board attorney Iman Montgomery said employees would pay 3.2 percent of the 9.2 percent increase. The cost per employee per paycheck would increase by approximately $1.50.

Francingues said the St. John School Board has been “well and beyond the call” of keeping insurance costs low for employees, especially when compared to other school districts.

During public comment, Natalie Tatje from Tatje Insurance questioned why the Insurance Committee chose to renew both insurances without shopping around and looking for better deals.

“If you have insurance committee meetings once a year and you don’t allow us to shop the insurance for you all, how do you know you have the best rate? How do you know you have the best product if you don’t go out and let some of the local agents look at it and see if they can do a better job for you all?” she asked.

Tatje added that she was told she was too late last year to present information to the Insurance Committee. When she contacted the committee much earlier in June of this year, she was still denied the chance to make a presentation.

One committee member responded that she listened to several presentations last year, and the current medical, dental and vision plans came back with the best rates. Another chimed in that St. John school employees are satisfied with the benefits they are receiving now.