Cassville schools give options for health insurance

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Annual health assessment event saves staff, school money

The Cassville school district has put forward its health insurance options for the coming year, expanding to offering 12 plans, including nine PPOs and three HSAs.

Cassville is one of 70 school districts in the Missouri Educators Trust (MET), which provides health insurance insurance to its members.

"We go in as a school district collectively and offer health insurance to our qualified, full-time employees," said Richard Asbill, superintendent. "Each district designates what is considered a base plan. Of 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.

"Plan eight 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 the 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 of their health benefit paid."

Asbill said many area schools are also members of MET, such as Southwest, Purdy, Exeter and Wheaton, but each school is free to choose their own base plan based on their collective preference and budget.

"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 a 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 doctor for the health risk assessment, but if they do there is a charge, whereas the assessment provided by the school is free to employees.

"We do the wellness exam," Asbill said. "Mercy brings a health risk assessment team to campus and teachers take tests and draw blood over a four-day period in September or October and the results go back to the employee.

"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 because health care costs continue to rise they 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 arrangement is a win-win for everyone.

"The health risk assessment helps save the school money by promoting wellness, and the district works hard to provide quality health insurance to its employees," he said. "The health insurance benefit is a good tool to recruit and keep quality staff. It's a positive thing for recruiting good teachers, and to have longevity, and we're proud of the benefit we provide there."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: