LABELLE -- Hendry School District officials unanimously approved to renew its Aetna employee health insurance plan for a 6.2% premium increase with a $50,000 premium credit during the school board’s regular Aug. 17, 2021 meeting.
The premium increase is considered a good deal according to insurance consultant Theresa Conley and Hendry County School District Chief Financial Director Sarah Cox who presented a PowerPoint presentation to the board reviewing its options for 2022.
The proposed contract started out with Aetna asking for a 21.3% increase for the 2022 renewal. Conley negotiated the company down to several lower options which she presented to the board.
Conley is not an insurance agent or broker, nor does she receive a commission for her work with Hendry County School District. She is an insurance consultant with St. Petersburg-based Siver Insurance Consultants and has worked with Hendry County for several years in this capacity.
To get the lower premium increase, Conley said negotiations involved adjusting some of the plan’s deductibles, coverages, and drug categories.
For example, in Aetna’s PPO plan, the most popular choice of employees, the emergency room copay will go up from $125/visit to $300 for the lower premium increase. Conley said the thinking behind this was to encourage people to visit urgent care facilities first which would help keep costs down.
“We proposed increasing the prescription copays,” she said, with $15 copays for generic prescriptions, $50 for Tier II brand-name medications and $85 for Tier III brand name drugs.
If a generic prescription costs less than the $15 copay, Conley said the lower price is paid.
This is a way to encourage people to try generic medications first or for longer periods of time before switching to a brand name drug, she said.
The school board asked how flexible the plans were when it came to special situations, such as rare experimental treatments.
Conley said there are appeals process in place for such circumstances.
Superintendent Michael Swindle said he’d already discussed working with four other school district superintendents to see if by combining their districts, they can see even greater savings on insurance costs.
“I already have interest,” he said.
The board also unanimously approved to follow Hendry County’s lead when it comes to redistricting.
Now that the U.S. Census results have been released, the county will review the information and compare it to current district maps, proposing changes and presenting those findings at public hearings.
The school board needed to decide by November, as districts can only be changed during odd-numbered years.