Cassville schools roll out new healthcare plans

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Cassville School district now offers 12 health care plans to teachers and staff.

Cassville is one of 70 school districts that are members of the Missouri Educators Trust (MET), which provides the insurance.

"We go in as a school district collectively and offer health insurance to our qualified, full-time employees," said Richard Asbill, superintendent of the Cassville school district. "Each district designates what is considered a base plan. Of those 12 plans, Cassville has selected what the district has decided is their base plan and what level of funding will occur on that base plan."

Asbill said there are additional plans to choose from, many of which are called buy-up plans, but the employee picks up the additional cost above the base plan cost.

"For instance, plan 8 is our base plan, so the plan cost is about $450 per member per month," Asbill said. "Last year, our plan cost was $427. The district pays 75 percent of that amount. The employee pays for the other 25 percent. But, in effort to engage our employees in wellness initiatives, we have a bona fide initiative plan where if they participate in a health risk assessment event, the district pays for the other 25 percent. They do not have to participate, but if they do, they can get 100 percent to their health benefit paid."

Asbill said area rural schools are also members of MET, such as Southwest, Purdy, Exeter and Wheaton, but each school handles the insurance differently.

"We could have the same base plan, but another school may have a cap where they pay X amount of dollars per month," he said. "Each district is little different."

Previously, the district had two health risk assessment events per year where teachers and staff get exams and tests for the purpose of preventative wellness, but this year there is only one.

"There was supposed to be a fall and spring health risk assessment, but once we got past the first one, we had some schedule conflicts and in addition to the MET group we found that a lot of districts were only offering just one," Asbill said. "At the time, we decided the employees already participated in the one so we waived the second one and amended the policy to requiring just one."

Staff have the option of going to their own doctors for the health risk assessments, but if they do, there is a charge, whereas the assessment provided by the school is free to employees.

"Mercy brings a health risk assessment team to campus and teachers take tests, exams and draw blood over a four day period in September or October, and the results go back to the employee," Asbill said. "They can work with their primary care physician from there. The purpose of the assessment is to promote wellness knowledge, so that if you have wellness issues that are undiagnosed, an assessment may help define those, thus preventing a catastrophic claim so if we can promote prevention, that is going to assist us in controlling claims and health care costs."

Asbill said health care costs continue to rise and are always a concern.

"It's important to promote wellness but also personal responsibility, to get those things addressed early," he said. "Health care is a changing piece with the Affordable Health Act. We do our best to provide a good health insurance benefit to our employees but at the same time costs have to be examined, and at a cost the district can afford.

Asbill said the district works hard to provide quality health insurance to its employees, the health risk assessment helps save the school money by promoting wellness, and the health insurance benefit is a good tool to recruit and keep quality staff.

"It's a positive thing for recruiting in good teachers and to have longevity, and we're proud of the benefit we provide there."

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