Germantown School District preparing for 'Obamacare' impact

Published on: 7/30/2013

Germantown — In preparation for President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Germantown School District will be increasing wellness programs in an effort to mitigate the estimated premium increases that will result when the controversial healthcare legislation begins to affect the district in 2015.

Though, as board member Thomas Barney said, "we do not know yet what the effect of the Affordable Care Act will be," a preliminary estimate suggests the district could face a 15 percent increase in overall healthcare costs to comply with the president's plan.

"It's not affordable," board President Bob Soderburg said of the legislation commonly referred to as 'Obamacare.' "It's just incurring additional costs to districts like Germantown."

The district is still bidding out health insurance for the coming 2013-14 school year, Superintendent Jeff Holmes said, and administrators are researching different types of health insurance setups like Health Savings Account plans and Health Reimbursement Account plans — all with an eye toward the potential increase in costs the Affordable Care Act will create when it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

"We're proceeding with those things in mind," Holmes said. "We need to be very mindful of the things that are in the Affordable Care Act....It's not going away. It's just been delayed."

In the meantime, Holmes said, the district is emphasizing wellness programs to drive down insurance claims and ultimately drive down the cost of premiums and healthcare to the district. Wellness programs typically consist of diet and exercise regimens, usually with the insurance provider or employer offering some sort of incentives, meant to make employees healthier and minimize their healthcare costs.

Holmes said he's meeting with the district's insurance carrier and a wellness representative next week to begin talking details.

"We're stepping up (wellness programs)," Holmes said, "ratcheting it up."