Changes in schools' health insurance irk workers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Changes in a state law that limit how much school districts can pay toward employee health insurance and a higher number of medical claims are leaving some employees of a South Bend school district feeling strapped by their health care expenses.

The South Bend Community School Corporation, which is self-insured, overhauled its health benefits this fall in response to the law and an increase in claims. Premiums for a single employee rose from about $150 to $210 a month, while those for a family plan jumped from $350 to $600. The district also implemented new tiers of coverage, the South Bend Tribune reported ).

Curt Novotny, the district's human resources director, acknowledged that the new premiums are higher but says the insurance company will help employees shop for their health services to help reduce costs.

"On our old plan," he said, "there was no incentive to do that. ... It's a different mindset."

The district also is reviewing bids to hire an operator for an on-site or near-site medical clinic it expects to open this spring. The clinic will provide primary care services, including physical exams and immunizations, as well as generic prescriptions, at no cost to covered employees.

That could help employees like bus driver Betty Kolacz, who said she recently stopped taking one of her prescription medications because the cost rose from $4 a month under her old health insurance plan to $30 a month under the new one.

"With gas prices going up, the cost of living going up, no raises," said Carolyn Miller, another driver, "it's getting to the point where it doesn't pay to work."


Information from: South Bend Tribune,

©2016 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.