PALMYRA — The Fluvanna School Board unanimously selected Local Choice for employee health insurance.
The School Board issued a request for proposal after the June meeting because Coventry’s initial renewal showed possible increases of 21 percent to 44 percent.
The School Board’s budget gives a flat rate of $439 per employee. Any increases are passed on to the employee. The proposed increases would result in $2,000 to $6,000 more a year.
The employee benefit committee reviewed all applicants to the RFP and interviewed Coventry and representatives of Anthem, who administers Local Choice. Local Choice is a state program for localities to join. Between Local Choice and regular business, Anthem administers over 80 percent of all public bodies’ health insurance.
Local Choice will more than likely result in an increase for health insurance premiums. However, Local Choice includes vision and dental insurance. Currently employees have to purchase vision and dental separately.
Using the most expensive options, this past year for employee only insurance was $518 per month. Local Choice will be $531 a month for the same plan but will also include vision and dental.
Family plans currently cost $1,375 a month. With Local Choice it will be $1,434. The one option that goes down is the high deductible plan. Employee only HDP was $459 a month. Next year it will be $441.
Benefits of having Local Choice, other than inclusion of vision and dental at no extra charge, is use of a national network with Anthem, four visits per member per issue for mental health, wellness program, rate increases are anticipated at 8 percent a year, over 320 groups in Local Choice, provider discounts, retirees can purchase coverage, it is a state program and renewal is discussed in February during budget season.
The biggest downside is losing the ‘employee plus children’ plan. Local Choice only allows employee only, dual or family.
The county employees have been with Local Choice for over a year. While both will use the same provider, it will not be tied together.
Local Choice premiums are determined by group claims experience. Smaller groups are pulled together with other smaller groups, thus giving smaller localities the power of larger localities.
Fluvanna County Public Schools qualifies as a group large enough to have all claims experience count against it. Fluvanna government is too small and is grouped with other smaller localities.
If the schools and the government grouped together, it would increase health costs. It is better for the community to keep both separate in Local Choice.
Keeping both sets of employees separate in Local Choice is not unusual because it keeps costs to the government and tax payers lower. Even if combined, it doesn’t mean premiums would go down. It could actually increase premiums based on claim history. Right now, the approximately 150 Fluvanna government employees are grouped with thousands of other members.
School Board Office staff is monitoring remaining claims to close accounts with Coventry. To leave Gateway two years ago, School Board paid $320,000. It is anticipated to be in that neighborhood again.
The hope is FCPS will stay with Local Choice beyond one year. Longevity can help lower health insurance costs.