Health insurance has become the most prevalent issue discussed at the bargaining table today. Recent premium increases for school districts with July renewal
dates have focused even more attention on this issue.
Many administrators and board members ask: How can this continue? How do we communicate to our employees, our taxpayers and other interested constituents the effect that our health insurance costs have on our budgets? How do we maintain and, hopefully, expand our educational offerings when our costs for health insurance continue to eat up an ever larger portion of our budget?
There are many factors that have contributed to the high cost of health insurance: utilization of services, demographic trends (such as life expectancy and obesity), healthcare provider consolidation, duplication of services, new products and services, the growing number of uninsured, marketing of prescription drugs, medical malpractice expenses, level of benefits and plan design, among others.
This article will provide insight on how to address items that we can control at the bargaining table: the level of benefits, plan design and consumer behavior. Remember, health insurance is an economic and emotional issue; people don’t always make rational decisions when negotiating over this topic.
Butler is Co-Director of Employee Relations Services, Staff Counsel; Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Negotiating health care costs with employees is the first item on the Board’s Human Resources Committee agenda: Monday, September 25, 2006 @ 6:00p.m. in the McDaniels Auditorium [map].