Jackson eyes insurance changes

JACKSON, Mich. - Jackson Public Schools is investigating switching insurance carriers, self-funding or asking all employee groups to agree to higher deductibles and co-pays as ways to spend less on health insurance, The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

All employees currently receive Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance administered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association.

The Patriot reported that some Jackson school board members have said the district could eliminate its overspending problem by switching carriers, a move that would have to be negotiated with unions. However, that isn't the only option, according to The Patriot.

The district already has asked all employee groups to consider paying 10 percent of their annual medical premiums, as well as increased deductibles and office visit co-pays, The Patriot reported.

Five years ago, the district was told it could save about $2 million annually by self-funding, The Patriot reported. In general, self-funding can save money, but requires careful assessment of an organization's health history in order to estimate how much money should be set aside, David Rice, vice president of sales at The Craft Agency, told The Patriot.

MEA field worker Gay Shaw told The Patriot that employees are willing to consider changes, "But it's not automatic that everybody's going to flat out agree to a board demand to change insurance."

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Jackson School Board members say insurer switch could wipe out district's deficit," Nov. 19, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Fabricating the Facts: The MEA's New Health Insurance Study," Sept. 4, 2009