Districts may rejoin health care collective

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MASSENA — Some school districts that have left the St. Lawrence-Lewis Health Insurance Consortium are considering a return to the plan, according to Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady.

Mr. Brady, the district’s representative on the consortium, updated the Massena school board on the plan Thursday night. He said the plan’s directors had most recently met in May.

He said Locey & Cahill LLC, the consultant for the plan, is working on revisions to the entrance and withdrawal procedures for plan participants.

“That would become part of our cooperative agreement that holds this plan together with the school districts, and then that would come to you as the individual boards,” Mr. Brady said.

The Canton, Edwards-Knox, Ogdensburg, Madrid-Waddington, Heuvelton and Morristown school districts had withdrawn from the plan. Morristown put in its notification by April 30, 2021, so it could leave the plan by July 1, 2022.

That leaves 12 participating districts and the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services in the consortium.

“We’ve seen some schools leaving the plan, but now you’re starting to see some of those schools thinking about coming back to the plan. So, we want to look at what are the conditions for entering back into the plan? What are the conditions if you want to leave the plan?” Mr. Brady said.

The plan includes workers’ compensation and health insurance.

The workers’ compensation, Mr. Brady said, “is showing that the first nine months of the plan were about 16.6% below budgeted levels.”

“We’re still seeing the effect of COVID where you had less claims when people were not all working in the schools,” he said. “We have a healthy net income now of $254,378,” so the comp plan is “doing quite well.”

The health insurance plan is below budget this year.

“This is largely due to a few factors. We had Morristown leave the plan. We had a reduction in enrollment over the past 18 months as well as the slow conversion of some districts to the lower premium riders. We’re about 12% under budget when it comes to the expenditure side with regard to medical paid claims and about 3% below budget for drug expenses,” Mr. Brady said. “Some of this is really the ongoing effects of the pandemic, as people didn’t seek out as many medical services unless you had COVID. And, if you were in the hospital, you’re probably in the Medicare side of COVID, which wouldn’t have impacted this plan as much as it did Medicare.”

He said Locey and Cahill had put out a request for proposals for a Medicare Advantage plan. The request was sent to six insurance companies, and four responded.

“Right now, Locey and Cahill, our administrator, is looking at that information. They’re expected to come to the next meeting with some recommendations to the board of directors on looking at a Medicare Advantage plan as part of our Excellus plan. We should see that analysis the next time,” Mr. Brady said.

Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield took over the health insurance administration for the plan beginning Jan. 1, 2020. That function had been handled by staff at St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services working in BOCES’ administrative offices for more than 30 years.

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