Lafayette Parish School System employees and retirees won’t face any changes to their health insurance premiums or deductibles next year, the School Board decided during a special meeting Thursday.
The board voted 7-2 to retain current premiums and deductible rates, passing on another proposal that would have cost the school system only half as much.
But the board will revisit the issue for 2017.
The monthly premium is $149 for individual coverage for active and retired employees not on Medicare, $87 for a retiree on Medicare and $608 for family coverage.
The annual deductible is $950 for individuals and $2,850 for families, with a potential reduction of the deductible for those who earn a $250 wellness credit.
The board’s decision was the top recommendation of the employee insurance advisory committee, which favored the option to allow a year for a thorough review of other plan options through a request-for-proposal process. The decision will cost the school system about $1.3 million.
Board members Elroy Broussard, Britt Latiolais, Dawn Morris, Tommy Angelle, Erick Knezek, Mary Morrison and Tehmi Chassion voted in support of retaining the current plan. Board members Jeremy Hidalgo and Justin Centanni voted against it.
The plan goes into effect January 2016 through December 2016. Meanwhile, staff will ask the board at its Oct. 14 meeting to issue a request for proposals to hire a consultant to guide it through the insurance plan selection process for 2017, Superintendent Donald Aguillard said.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Hidalgo had asked the board to consider another option: the insurance advisory committee’s second choice, which would increase deductibles but would lower premiums for most plan holders except retirees on Medicare. His suggestion was debated by the board and retirees in the audience for nearly an hour.
That option increased premiums for retirees on Medicare by $20 a month, so Hidalgo proposed the board subsidize that increase.
Even with the subsidy, Hidalgo said, his proposal would cost half of the $1.3 million the status quo will cost, a savings of $650,000. Hidalgo received support for his suggestion from only two other board members: Centanni and Knezek.
Prior to the vote on Hidalgo’s suggestion, Morris said she had questions about whether the board could consider the subsidy since it wasn’t properly noticed on the agenda and whether the board could legally subsidize premiums for a select group of employees.
Butch Mouton, chairman of the insurance advisory committee, questioned why Hidalgo didn’t present his idea to the committee during its meeting Wednesday.
“We’ve had board members attend the meetings and never presented this solution,” Mouton said before asking the board not to make any changes to the plan.
The option pushed by Hidalgo would have increased annual deductibles from $950 for individuals to $1,500 and from $2,850 for families to $4,500, but lowered monthly premiums to $110 for individuals and retirees without Medicare, $107 for retirees on Medicare and $500 for family coverage.
Hidalgo’s plan also would have boosted the wellness credit to $400 for active employees and retirees with Medicare and to $600 for employees not on Medicare.
Board president Tommy Angelle credited Hidalgo for his research and appointed him chairman of the board’s insurance committee.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.