With health care costs rising and a growing number of employees adding dependents to their health insurance coverage, the Ascension Parish School Board’s health insurance plan faces an estimated $7.8 million deficit by the end of October, unless adjustments are made, School Board members were told Tuesday night.

Len Fontaine, an employee benefits specialist with HUB International Gulf South, said the deficit could be covered by making changes in three areas: minimal plan changes in physician office co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums; improved provider discounts; and minimal rate increases.

There would be no changes to prescription drug co-pays or to primary care physician co-pays, Fontaine said.

“The plan is so large, if you make some small changes, it will bring the plan back into order,” Fontaine said of the health insurance that covers approximately 7,500 people.

“At the end of the day, it’s still cream of the crop,” Fontaine said of the health insurance that the School Board offers its employees and their families.

The changes Fontaine is proposing would mean a 15 percent or 30 percent increase in premiums for School Board employees, depending on which insurance plan they’re in. For employees with dependents, the premium increases would be 20 percent and 35 percent.

“It still gives employees a very competitive offering,” Fontaine said.

The School Board’s Insurance Committee will discuss Fontaine’s proposals again, before a vote by the full School Board within the next month or so, before the dates of the next open enrollment period, from Aug. 11 to Sept. 11.