MONROE, Mich. – Monroe Public Schools will pay less for health insurance in the coming year because employees didn’t request much actual health care last year, according to the Monroe News.

The Michigan Education Special Services Association told Monroe it would reduce their rates by 2.3 percent instead of raising them an anticipated 14 percent, a move that will save the district $1.1 million, the News reported. A MESSA spokesperson told the News that Monroe’s employees didn’t file enough health insurance claims to merit an increase.

"I thought that was very surprising," said Ken Laub, assistant superintendent of business, according to the News. "It's unheard of, but we'll take it."

The savings will offset part of the $4 million in cuts that the district wants to make over two years to bring spending in line with revenue, the News reported. However, the board is still considering staffing cuts, administrative restructuring and privatization of custodial and maintenance services, according to the News.

MESSA announced in a press release earlier this year that it has moved to a new business model in which the amount it charges school districts is based to a larger extent on the district’s actual health history, depending on the size of the district. Previously schools were grouped into regional pools for rating purposes. MESSA also is using $59 million from a reserve fund it has accumulated from school payments over the years as a way to subsidize rates this year.

The Monroe News, “Insurance rate cut will save big money,” May 11, 2009

Michigan Education Special Services Association, “MESSA Board keeps 2009-2010 Rate Increase Under 5 Percent by using $59 Million from Reserve Fund,” April 29, 2009

Michigan Education Digest, “Mount Pleasant, others looking at insurance pool,” Dec. 18, 2008