By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – The Hot Springs Board of Education met in a Special Meeting last Wednesday, May 23, to formally approve a contract with a new health insurance provider through the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD), which will provide significant monthly savings to school staff and the district itself.
Superintendent Kevin Coles said the certified and classified teachers’ union had signed off on the proposal earlier in the day and the School Board’s approval would finalize the contract. School staff now have until July 1 to complete enrollment.
Coles said the savings to qualified staff equals $25 less per month for the first level or single option, $35 less per month for the two mid-range or two-party options and $50 less per month for the full family option. The district itself also benefits since part of the overall savings includes the district contributing less to the plan for employees.
Hot Springs Schools’ previous insurance plan was directly through Welmark/Blue Cross. This new contract is through Wellmark as well, however it is part of a self-funded plan that is managed by the ASBSD which features only school districts.
“One of the things exciting about all of this is that it brings real stability to the district and the employees,” Coles said, adding that all parties involved are “happy” with the new plan.
Coles said with the previous plan directly through Wellmark, the district was expecting a 12 percent increase to its premiums. With this new plan, there should not ever be a double-digit increase, Coles said. He added that past history with the ASBSD plan showed either no increase or only a 2 percent increase.
Coles also pointed out that since the plan is still with Wellmark, employees who have already met their deductible will not be impacted negatively and that everyone’s plans will smoothly transition to the new plan, despite the change taking plane mid-year.