Employee health insurance coverage was the first item of business at the Northmor School Board meeting Tuesday. Northmor Treasurer, Tammi Cowell called the news they received from insurance agents this week “shocking.”

Although there have been increases in employee insurance in past years, the increase this year will be more than twice the usual increase.

This is especially disappointing since the financial forecast shows the district with a sizeable cash carryover this year.

Terry Scott of CBA Benefit Services came to the meeting to explain the reason for the exceptionally high increase in health insurance for Northmor employees. He noted that he has been the district’s third party administrator for insurance the past 15 years. In the past he was able to negotiate an increase of three or four percent instead of the larger increases of 9 or 12 percent now requested by the insurance companies.

For the coming year Medical Mutual first asked for an 18.6 percent increase. That was negotiated to 12.6 percent. Scott then checked with other insurance carriers. Some such as Anthem wouldn’t even give them a quote. They finally got a quote from United Healthcare for a 9.5 percent increase.

The reason for the insurance increases is that there are 11 really large claims this year that range from $25,000 to $50,000. In past years there would only be three or four large claims of that size. In past years these were one time claims rather than ongoing claims that are expected to go on for several years.

Northmor Elementary Secretary, Karen Pfleiderer spoke up to say she would rather stick with doctors and health insurance she knows and trusts rather than changing for some unknown.

Scott answered that is why CBA is doing a study of the present Northmor employees’ in-network hospitals, doctors and prescriptions. They are doing their best to negotiate a good outcome both in healthcare and cost. Scott and CBA Benefit Services will also be talking with the employees union representatives.

Cowell said that the board will need to look at the entire financial picture as they make a decision about health insurance. Their financial situation is better, but they need to be careful.

The district pays 85 percent of employees’ health insurance coverage.

Cowell presented the board with the financial forecast that shows a $1,135,584 cash balance that will be the carryover to next year. She took a conservative approach in predicting how the balance will carry over through to 2020 when a deficit would be predicted. She believes there will be no need for an additional levy at this time due to an increase in real estate tax and income tax coupled with very frugal spending on the part of the administration, teachers and staff.

Superintendent, Chad Redmon commented that the “district finances are trending in a very positive way over the past 14-15 months.”

Curriculum Director, Ann Pfister reported on testing in the district. She reported that all seniors have passed their required tests this year. 100 percent of the students in the district took the state mandated tests. Redmon thanked Pfister for her creativity in working with students and parents so that not one student opted out of testing this year.

The board approved the list of 65 seniors for graduation this year. Redmon commented that it is one of the smallest classes for several years.

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel

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