Loudoun School Board considers plan that could drastically change health care costs
School Board member Bill Fox’s (Leesburg) proposed healthcare plan, which comes out of the board’s Personnel Committee, would drastically change health care costs for employees.
The proposed plan would have Loudoun County Public Schools pay in the same amount per month for its Point of Sale (POS) and Open Access Plus (OAP) plan.
That would save the school system $4 million in the first year and $8 million in the following years, according to Fox.
The change would do little to dent the $55.9 million revenue gap from the Loudoun County’s budget, the expected result of a proposed 3-cent reduction on the equalized property tax rate.
The school system proposed a budget totaling $876.4 million for fiscal 2014.
The school system currently pays less into OAP than into POS, according to information on the school system’s website.
For the OAP plan, the school system pays $607.50 a month and the employee pays $67.50. Under Fox’s proposal, the school system would pay $650.43 and the employee would pay nothing.
On the current POS plan, the school system pays $561.74 and the employee pays $29.56. Under Fox’ proposal, the school system would pay $650.43 and the employee would pay $74.25.
A family under the current POS plan pays $379.70 a month as their premium and the school system pays $1,307.84. Under Fox’s proposal, a family would pay $522.89 and the school system would pay $1,333.40.
A family under the current OAP plan pays $325.22 and the school system pays $1,153.06. Under Fox’s proposal, a family would pay $292.70 and the school system would pay $1,333.40.
The POS plan requires a primary physician and a referral for specialists, but has no deductible for in-network providers.
There’s no co-pay for preventive care, screenings, immunizations, tests or imaging in-network, according to the school system’s website.
Fox said both plans have “extraordinarily good coverage.”
“About 90 percent of physicians accept the POS plan,” Fox said. “Ninety percent expect the OAP plan. It is not necessarily the case that it’s the same 90 percent.”
The POS plan is overwhelmingly popular with school system employees. Only 200 of the school system’s employees don’t use it.
“That choice costs Loudoun taxpayers an inordinate amount of money,” Fox said. “We’re not talking about thousands or hundreds of thousands, we’re talking about millions or tens of millions.”
The OAP plan requires no primary physician or referrals for specialists, but has a $200 deductible per person for in-network and a $400 deductible for a family, according to the school system’s website.
“Not only does this save LCPS money, but it’s fair,” Fox said. “I think it’s a good benefit that we have this more expensive POS plan that we offer.”
Fox said his goal was to shift health care costs to the employee and make having both plans cost-neutral on the school system.
“The cost should be on the employee who chooses that plan, rather than on the taxpayer’s level,” Fox said.
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), agreed.
“We are not supposed to give a preference, an incentive between plans,” Hornberger said. “And yet, the amount we’re subsidizing of them, in my opinion, a form of incentive. . . to be truly neutral is to be cost-neutral too.”
Hornberger wondered if a large amount of employees taking the free OAP plan might accidentally drive up school system costs.
Superintendent Edgar Hatrick said the school system offered a similar plan many years ago and most single employees signed up.
“Then we went to $5 a month and then we actually started charging premiums,” Hatrick said. “I believe part of the reason for doing so was to get people off the list who were just carrying us on our insurance.”
School Board Vice Chair Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) suggested that Cigna provide information sessions about the two different plans to employees as soon as possible if the change was going to be considered.
“Engaging the employee in a conversation and educating them on the different aspects is very important,” Turgeon said. “As someone who’s been in the system for 10 years and likes to save as much money as possible, I was not aware of these different benefits for this other plan.”