Modesto City Schools is facing a health crisis of sorts — skyrocketing premiums and almost no insurers willing to take the district's aging pool of employees.
"No one really wants to subscribe us," said Julie Chapin, a director of business services for the district. Next year's premium under standard plans was expected to rise "28 percent to the upper 90s," she told board members at their Monday night meeting.
The largest problem, she told the board, is high use of prescribed drugs.
"Our members are heavy users of pharmaceuticals — about three times average," she said.
Part of that can be attributed to the generally older employees and retirees covered by the district insurance policy.
"We are a very old district, very old compared to other districts," Chapin said.
"I think the average age last year was 53," chipped in Barney Hale of the Modesto Teachers Association. Laying off a large number of young teachers added to the problem, he added.
The district pays $150 per month for each covered employee and $48 per month for each retiree, with the balance paid by individuals. Modesto teachers years ago opted to take higher salaries and drop most of the district contribution to health coverage.
Employee groups asked Modesto City Schools to sign on with the Public Employees Medical and Hospital Care Act, a division of Cal-PERS, Chapin said. The cost for the district would remain the same, she said.
Trustees agreed and gave a unanimous thumbs-up to a CalPERS contract.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2339.