THT Health to Increase Health Insurance Premiums for CCSD Teachers
Clark County School District teachers who have multiple family members covered by their health insurance are facing rising costs and, in some cases, their premiums are nearly doubling.
THT Health’s open enrollment period for the 2022-23 benefit year began August 3 and runs through August 24. The changes come into effect on October 1.
Factors driving these increases include inflation and teacher shortages – essentially more spending to be spread among fewer people insured by the health trust.
“Health care spending is really going up,” THT Health CEO Tom Zumtobel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday.
THT Health is the health insurance provider for approximately 36,000 people – school district certified employees and their family members. The trust, which has struggled for years with financial problems and been bailed out several times, is overseen by the Clark County Education Association teachers’ union.
The premium increases will have the biggest effect on families opting for a traditional PPO plan.
Educators who are insured individually or with a dependent will not see a premium increase for medical benefits, but will see a “nominal premium change” if they opt for the dental PPO rather than the HMO option, according to the trust’s website.
Zumtobel said at a school board meeting Thursday night that the school district is doing a “really good job” funding educators but not funding families, and “our spending is with the families.”
He said the health trust was unhappy with the premium increases.
John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, returned a Review-Journal request for comment to Zumtobel on Friday.
In a statement released Friday, the school district said, “Because the insurance program is administered by THT, we will defer to them for an answer.”
Last year, educators began to worry about being abandoned as patients by their medical providers or sent to collections due to unpaid claims.
The school district issued 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 the teachers’ union. It included financial transparency and other requirements, such as settlement of bad debts.
Zumtobel told the Review-Journal on Friday that the health trust had done “remarkable things” over the past year, including resolving outstanding claims and collection cases. He said it had “turned the operation upside down”.
He said the trust did not plan to increase bonuses, but inflation and declining teacher numbers played a part.
The health trust said on its website that its “trend inflation” is 8.73%, compared to local and national employers who are seeing cost increases of 12-25% in their plans.
Recruiting teachers is difficult, Zumtobel said, noting that he understands bonus increases aren’t helping.
He said the increases have hit families hard.
“I hate it, personally, but it wasn’t fair to put it back on individual teachers,” he said.
High school teacher Ryan Fromoltz — who is insured as an individual under the traditional PPO plan — said he’s heard concerns from district employees who have multiple children about how they’ll pay the premium increases.
“Teachers are looking at severance options because the bonuses have gone up 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 advantage, Zumtobel said, noting he thinks it got lost in conversation.
Another change: there are additional categories of family subscribers: subscriber plus two to four people and subscriber plus five or more people. Currently, it’s just “subscriber plus family”.
Employees pay $245 by paycheck every two weeks for the Signature plan, the traditional PPO. This will run between $368 and $475.50, depending on the size of the family and the dental plan chosen.
There is a smaller premium increase for the High Deductible Advantage Plan, which is currently $232.50 for a family. Now the costs will range from $247.50 to $267.50.
In comparison, licensed employees will pay between $7.50 and $19.50 per paycheck, depending on the plan and dental benefits they choose.
An employee plus a family member will pay between $115 and $134 per paycheck.