The majority of school districts in Michigan use the MEA-owned Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) as a health care benefits provider for their employees. MESSA is expensive, however, and districts looking for areas where they can free up scarce resources for education have lately begun exploring less expensive health care options. Districts that have switched from MESSA to other insurance carriers have saved from 6 to 28 percent on the cost of providing identical coverage to their employees. That has translated to savings of as much as $500,000 per year.

To help school board members and administrators make informed decisions about health care coverage, a comparison of various fringe benefit packages available to school districts is provided below. An analysis of the data and information about the cost and quality of health care benefit plans and services will help school districts become value-based purchasers.