Libby Whitaker, Nelson Hale and Travis Riker, benefits consultant from United Benefit Advisors, hold a $104,122 check, representing the BOE's savings over the past year.

Libby Whitaker, Nelson Hale and Travis Riker, benefits consultant from United Benefit Advisors, hold a $104,122 check, representing the BOE’s savings over the past year.

By Tia Lecorchick staff writer

Libby Whitaker, internal auditor for the Morgan County Charter School System, gave a positive report to the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) on the Shared Savings Program, a plan she proposed last September in which non-certified school employees are given the option to acquire health insurance outside of the school system’s health insurance plan, which has yielded $183,322 in savings on health insurance costs for the school system.

The school system saved $104,122 and school system employees saved $79,200.

“The school system offers our employees health insurance through the Department of Community Health’s State Health Benefit Plan. In the past, the state has supplemented the health plan and paid for a portion of all employees health care premium costs. But over the past two years the state has decided to no longer supplement the health plan for our classified employees…So the local school board has picked up that cost to supplement the health plan for our these employees so that they can enjoy the same health care at the same cost as the certified employees. This has proven to be a tremendous cost to the school system so we have brainstormed ways to save the school system money while still providing a great health insurance plan for our classified employees,” explained Whitaker.

The Shared Savings Program was implemented in response to the increased amount of money school boards are now required to kick in for non-certified employees, which includes secretaries, bus drivers, custodians and paraprofessionals, under new health insurance laws.

The state now requires local school systems to pay for half of the cost of non-certified employees’ healthcare coverage. In Septemeber, Whitaker estimated that there are 160 non-certified school employees, which would significantly increase healthcare costs for the school system through fiscal year (FY) 2015.

“What we did was provide an incentive to our employees to save the school system money by making choices with their health insurance provider and then the savings that resulted from their choices were shared with the employees that chose to participate! Those employees who participated in the Shared Savings Program saved the school system a total of $183,322 in health insurance costs, we took that savings and shared $79,200 back with the employees,” said Whitaker.

Travis Riker, a benefits consultant for United Benefit Advisors, told the BOE that the savings incurred from Whitaker’s plan is no small feat.

“You are a school system with half as many employees as other districts, yet you’ve doubled in savings what they have,” explained Riker. “This is great news,” said Nelson Hale, chairman of the BOE.

“You did such a good job educating all of our employees about this,” Hale told Whitaker. Riker believes it is in the school system’s best interest to stick with the Shared Savings Program.

“Next year’s results could be even bigger,” said Riker.