NEW IBERIA — Iberia Parish School Board employees could see their health insurance rates rise 6.5 percent unless current negotiations are successful.

Board health insurance adviser James Perez said Wednesday the increase is because patients have been filing more claims than normal.

For example, he said, one employee filed a more than $640,000 bill for services in September.

Perez said the employees would bear the total increase. The basic premium’s monthly increase in rates for one employee, which is called Plan A, would be $34.62, he said. That would raise monthly deductions for individuals from $177 to $211.62; a family plan would rise even more.

Perez added that Blue Cross representatives had told him they wanted to raise rates by 9.6 percent, but he was able to negotiate a lower 6.5 percent rate.

Board member Robbie LeBlanc asked if there was any money left in the employee insurance fund to offset any of the costs associated with this year’s claims.

Superintendent Dale Henderson said most of the money in the account was used last year, adding there might be about $100,000 remaining.

LeBlanc said they should use whatever money is left to keep the rates as low as possible.

Perez said the negotiations with Blue Cross are ongoing, and he hopes he can get the costs to come down more before the new plan goes into effect Jan. 1.

No action was taken on the Perez’s presentation.

ASBESTOS REMOVAL: Also during the meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept a bid for $69,425 from Asbestos Tech Inc. of Cade to remove asbestos from Hopkins Street Elementary School.

The school is being abandoned, and the students will start attending the new Johns Hopkins Elementary School when complete next year.

School system maintenance associate David McClung said removal of the flame-resistant material will be paid for out of the Johns Hopkins Elementary fund.