Yosemite Community College District officials have come to an agreement with employees over skyrocketing medical insurance costs by moving to another provider. The district will continue paying all premiums.
Officials estimate the move won't cost any more, and could save money, but they won't know for sure until employees pick their plans. If there are savings, the money will be funneled into an account to help pay for any future increases in health coverage costs.
District employees — which include staff at the district office as well as Modesto Junior College and Columbia College — can choose from three plans, all of which are PPOs through Blue Shield.
The YCCD is ditching Anthem Blue Shield, which has come under fire recently for raising premiums for many Californians by as much as 39 percent. The increases for the YCCD would have been about 25 percent, an extra $3 million this year. Officials were not going to swallow that increase as they prepare to slash $12 million from the 2010-11 budget.
"It's still a terrific plan, but most employees wanted an HMO. That was a sticking point," said YCCD Chancellor Roe Darnell. Both sides spent about three months looking at six providers and negotiating the changes, which will take effect April 1.
Yosemite Faculty Association President Jillian Daly agreed, but said many instructors understand that most HMOs are what's driving up insurance costs. Many HMOs don't require out-of-pocket deductibles.
"The agreement was ratified by faculty, by 180 to about nine, an overwhelming vote," she said.
The YCCD's full-time employees are eligible for coverage. The premiums, or cost of the medical insurance, for employees and any family members are paid by the district at about $1,050 per person per month.
About 860 employees enroll in the insurance, and 230 retirees are covered, Darnell said. They can choose from three plans, with deductibles of $300 per employee and $600 per family. Doctor office visits will have $20 or $30 co-pays.
The new lower costs are achieved partially by joining Self Insured Schools of California, a network of 368 education agencies in 38 counties run by the Kern County Office of Education. SISC is a pool that can use its 235,000 members as leverage to negotiate cheaper plans.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339. Read Hatfield's education blog at thehive.modbee.com/ExtraCredit.