Germantown schools offer incentive for employees to opt out of health insurance plan

Aug. 30, 2011

Germantown - Having increased premium payments and co-pays for employees as part of a new insurance plan, the Germantown School District sweetened the pot for those who opt out of the district's insurance plan.

Last year, the district had 46 individuals opt out of the district's WEA plan, and received a cash payment as a result. Those with nine or more years of experience received more than $6,000 if they were full-time, while newer employees received $1,200.

That cost the district $288,621 in cash payments, but Business Manager Rick Ericksen estimated that if even just half of those 46 employees had been on the insurance plan, the costs would have been closer to $755,000 because the district picks up the lion's share of the plan - employees paid just 3 percent.

Given that costs to the district would be significantly higher than the cash payments if an employee chose to be on the district's insurance, the School Board voted to increase cash benefits as an enticement for people to opt out.

The cash payment for those employees having been in the district prior to July 1, 2002, will be nearly $6,700 - an increase based on last year's rate and the Consumer Price Index.

Payments for those joining the district after that date will be offered a $4,000 sum to not take the district's insurance.

The $6,000 figure is roughly a third of the annual cost of a family plan and about 80 percent of a single plan.

Germantown officials considered a motion to exclude employees in the district with spouses who were also eligible for district insurance. That would have prevented a couple from having one person take the family plan insurance and have the other opt out with the cash even though he or she would have been covered under a spouse's plan. In effect, those couples can be paid for opting out while still being covered by the district's plan.

There are seven married couples currently working in the district.

A motion to add that to the policy was defeated, 3-3 - board President Michael Erdmann stepped down from the board and was not present at the meeting. It is the district's option to add such an exclusion if it chooses to do so and could still be added in the future.

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