Insurance changes coming to Moffat County School District

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Rising insurance costs will soon hit home in the Moffat County School District.

The Moffat County School Board entertained a recommendation at its workshop Thursday that would spread the impact of increased insurance rates to employees throughout the district.

Dipping into the general fund to offset insurance costs was off the table, Finance Director Mark Rydberg told the board and about 40 teachers and school district staff in attendance.

“We did not want to have general fund added expense due to the budget constraints,” he said.

Barring a draw from the general fund, members of the district’s insurance committee — comprised of teachers, administrators and board members — had two options, Rydberg said.

They could put the added cost of insurance onto employees with families, “a much smaller group,” Rydberg said, or distribute it throughout the entire insurance pool, which includes roughly 220 employees.

They chose the latter and drafted a recommendation that includes a combination of plan changes and premium increases.

The latter alone is projected to generate $100,000 a year.

Employees who added their families to their health insurance plans by or before June 30, 2011, will be grandfathered into the plan, with the district picking up part of their premiums.

Employees who added their families after that date, however, pay the full family premiums.

Depending on the plan, those monthly premiums add up to either $860 to $1,025 per month.

In comparison, employees who added their families to the plan before the 2011 cutoff date pay $595 or $760 a month, depending on their plan. Two employees on the same plan — for instance, a husband and wife — pay either $465 or $300 a month.

“You can see the difference, and it is significant,” Rydberg said. However, health insurance costs can increase by about 10 percent a year, “and we need to be keeping up,” he said.

Board President Sandie Johns spoke in favor of the proposal, which did not require a board vote.

“I appreciate the committee looking at that total picture,” she said.

John Haddan, however, who spoke on behalf of the Moffat County Education Association’s negotiation team, said the proposal was “problematic.”

“This is the first time that employees of Moffat County (Schoool District) have paid for insurance,” said Haddan, who also is a Moffat County High School agriculture education teacher.

Removing general fund money from the equation puts the burden of added insurance rates solely on employees, he said.

He requested the board discuss the proposal with MCEA before it goes into effect.

He referred to district policy, which states that issues about salary and economic conditions of employment are negotiable.

“We really think that this issue should go through the negotiation process,” he said.

His request was met by applause from teachers who filled nearly every seat in the room.

Johns didn’t rule out future negotiations. “We have the opportunity each year to go into this and redo, retalk, refigure,” she said.

For now, however, the new insurance changes stand.

“I don’t see how we can go any different than going forward with our recommendation and starting open enrollment on May 1,” Johns said.

The new insurance costs go into effect July 1.

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