Press-Republican

Health

May 12, 2013

City School constituents discuss health insurance

PLATTSBURGH — Having undergone cancer surgery, Steve Bedard is grateful for the Plan A health insurance available to him as a retired Plattsburgh City School teacher. 

“What I find is I’m slowly becoming a walking pharmacy,” Bedard, a city taxpayer, told the audience gathered at the district’s recent public health insurance forum. 

The event came after months of urging from taxpayer Walter Chmura for the school to consider switching from Plan A to the less costly Plan B. The forum featured a presentation, detailing the differences in the two plans, by Steve Locey of Locey and Cahill LLC, the consulting firm that works with the district’s health-care consortium.

PLAN DIFFERENCES

Plan B is currently about 18 percent less expensive than Plan A, Locey said. 

They also differ in that Plan B carries higher deductibles and co-insurance maximums, and Plan B users are subject to prescription drug co-pays, which do not count toward fulfilling the deductible or co-insurance maximum. 

”Right now, I get prescription drugs, (and) it counts toward my $400 (co-insurance maximum and) $50 deductible ... If that’s pulled away from me, I’ll tell you, I’ll be pretty nervous because any of us could end up bankrupt,” Bedard said during the public-comment portion of the forum, following Locey’s presentation. 

BIG SAVINGS SEEN

Other speakers, however, noted that the high cost of Plan A makes it unsustainable for schools that are annually struggling to bridge budget gaps.

“Many local school districts have recently stated that their districts are in danger because (of) unsustainable benefits, and health care is one of the biggest parts of that,” said Nancy Allen, a city taxpayer and former Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield employee. 

Allen, who worked on the consortium’s account during her 12 years with Excellus and helped to develop and implement Plan B, stated the City School District could save about $900,000 a year by switching plans. 

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