School District’S Health Costs Go Up 28 Percent

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Payson schools’ health premiums will rise 28 percent next year, even after the school board approved switching health carriers Monday night.

Had the district stayed with the Valley Schools Trust, rates would have skyrocketed 74 percent.

“That was not an acceptable alternative,” said Superintendent Casey O’Brien.

All told, Payson schools will spend $1.74 million on benefits next year.

A handful of huge claims during the past year spurred the rise, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Tomerlin. Under Valley Schools Trust, the district used United Health Care.

The Payson school board months ago agreed to seek new bids on health insurance, but not one company wanted to do business.

Some companies declined to bid, others didn’t even respond, said Tomerlin.

Ultimately, the choice fell to the Verde Valley Schools Trust or health care under the Arizona School Board Association, which is geared toward smaller, rural districts that encounter difficulty when seeking health insurance.

After meetings, employees suggested contracting with ASBA, which uses Blue Cross Blue Shield. The company offers a traditional plan, and also a high deductible plan with an associated health savings account, which Tomerlin said is good good for healthy people without large medical bills or a bunch of prescription drugs to take.

To describe the new insurance’s health savings accounts, Tomerlin revealed Payson’s latest news station — K12 News PUSD. She, along with several other employees, produced an informational program complete with rock ’n’ roll music.

Those interested can link to the broadcast on the district’s Web site.

Tomerlin said the broadcast offered a fun and non-boring way to educate district employees on the changes.

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