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To cover a projected increase in costs next year, the Central School Board on Monday changed its main health care plan by imposing a deductible for employees, but it kept premiums the same and even lowered copays for visits to a primary care physician.

At the same, the suburban Baton Rouge public school district maintained benefit levels on its other plan, which already had a high deductible, in hopes of persuading some employees to shift to it.

The board discussed the matter briefly Monday before voting. The board’s Finance Committee on Oct. 30 recommend the changes. Those changes, known as Scenario 3, was one of three proposals developed by an employee health care committee.

One scenario would have kept the plan the same, but increase overall premiums an average of 9.4%. A second scenario would have increased premiums by 5%, but made other plan changes.

Open enrollment for Central employees started Tuesday and continues until next Monday, Superintendent Jason Fountain said.

The changes in medical coverage go into effect Jan. 1. The school system employs Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana as its third-party administrator for its health plans.

The changes approved Monday mostly apply to the school system’s more popular PPO plan. Currently, that plan has no deductibles if a school employee seeks care in-network. On Jan. 1, single employees on the PPO will have a $600 deductible for in-network care, while employees with family coverage will have an $1,800 deductible.

At the same, the new PPO plan no longer covers medical claims at 100%. The plan shifts to a coinsurance model with the school system paying 90% and employees paying 10%. The out-of-pocket maximum for in-network care, however, is unchanged: $5,000 for single employees and $10,000 for employees with families.

To soften the blow a bit, the changes to the PPO plan lower the copay for a visit to a primary care physician from $30 to $20 a visit.

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.