August 12, 2022 - 5:04 pm
Updated August 15, 2022 - 7:48 am
Clark County School District teachers who have multiple family members covered under their health insurance are facing a cost increase, and in some cases, their premiums are nearly doubling.
THT Health’s open enrollment period for the 2022-23 benefit year began Aug. 3 and continues through Aug. 24. The changes take effect Oct. 1.
Factors behind the increases include inflation and the teacher shortage — essentially, more expenses to spread out among fewer people who are insured by the health trust.
“The expenses for health care are truly going up,” THT Health CEO Tom Zumtobel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday.
THT Health is the health insurance provider for about 36,000 people — licensed school district employees and their family members. The trust, which struggled for years with financial issues and was bailed out multiple times, is overseen by the Clark County Education Association teachers union.
The premium increases will have the largest effect on families who opt for a traditional PPO plan.
Educators who are insured individually or with one dependent won’t see a premium increase for medical benefits but will see a “nominal premium change” if they opt for the dental PPO over the HMO option, according to the trust’s website.
Zumtobel said during a Thursday night School Board meeting that the school district does a “very good job” of funding educators but doesn’t fund families, and “our expenses are with the families.”
He said the health trust isn’t happy about the premium increases.
John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, referred a Review-Journal request for comment on Friday to Zumtobel.
In a Friday statement, the school district said, “Because the insurance program is administered by THT, we would defer to them for a response.”
The school district gave a $35 million advance to the health trust last year, and it must be repaid by the end of June 2024.
In October, an agreement was reached between the district and teachers union. It included financial transparency and other requirements, such as settling past-due claims.
Zumtobel told the Review-Journal on Friday that the health trust has done “remarkable things” in the past year, including resolving past-due claims and collections cases. He said it has “turned the operation around.”
He said the trust wasn’t anticipating premium increases, but inflation and fewer teachers played a role.
The health trust said on its website that its “trending inflation” is 8.73 percent, compared with local and national employers that are experiencing cost increases of 12 to 25 percent in their plans.
It’s hard to recruit teachers, Zumtobel said, noting he understands that premium increases don’t help.
He said the increases have hit families hard.
“I hate it, personally, but it wasn’t fair to put it back on the individual teachers,” he said.
High school teacher Ryan Fromoltz — who is insured as an individual under the traditional PPO plan — said he has heard concerns from district employees who have multiple children about how they’re going to pay for the premium increases.
“Teachers are looking at options of leaving because the premiums have increased so much for families,” he said.
THT Health offers two plan options: a traditional PPO and a high-deductible plan.
New this year: The school district will contribute $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a family into a health savings account for those on the high-deductible plan.
That’s a significant benefit, Zumtobel said, noting he thinks that has been lost in the conversation.
Another change: There are additional family subscriber categories — subscriber plus two to four people and subscriber plus five or more people. Currently, it’s just “subscriber plus family.”
Employees pay $245 per biweekly paycheck for the Signature Plan, the traditional PPO. That will increase to between $368 and $475.50, depending on the size of the family and the dental plan chosen.
There’s a smaller premium increase for the high-deductible Advantage Plan, which is currently $232.50 for a family. Now, costs will range from $247.50 to $267.50.
By comparison, individual licensed employees will pay anywhere from $7.50 to $19.50 per paycheck, depending on which plan and dental benefits they choose.
An employee plus one family member will pay between $115 and $134 per paycheck.