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Halifax County Schools catch break on insurance costs

SoVaNow.com / April 01, 2013
The Halifax County School Board received some good news last week — insurance rates for school employees will not increase next year.

Patsy Akridge of Akridge Insurance and Finances recommended that trustees accept the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, which submitted a no-increase proposal after bids went out to 15 vendors, drawing five replies.

The Anthem plan, she told the board, will cost the county $5,024,250, down by 0.8 percent from the $5,071,650 cost in the current year. The monthly cost to employers for all tiers and all benefit plans would be $609 per month beginning Oct. 1. Employee costs would total $1,466,000, with employee contributions depending on which plan they choose to carry.

Akridge’s proposal drew a round of applause from school trustees and an immediate 8-0 approval of her recommendation. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon told trustees that in talks with fellow superintendents, one had told her his system’s health insurance costs were increasing by 33 percent.

Akridge explained that federal health care reform has posed a major issue for all school systems, and she further noted that plans have to be tested in January 2014 with non-compliance penalties totaling $2,000 per employee.

She also said that currently there are 17 retirees over the age of 65 who are enrolled in the school system’s plan. These must be removed from the plan, she said, noting those retirees could save money through a less expensive plan with Medicare supplemental insurance. Akridge offered to work with the retirees to get a better plan to meet their needs.

In other business last Monday evening, trustees approved a resolution which allows Herndon and Finance Director Jay Camp to sign checks for the use of some $16,000 which was left in an account earlier at Sun Trust Bank. The resolution was necessary since school officials who were authorized to sign checks when the money was deposited at that time are no longer with the school system.

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