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Harford Community College to give full-time employees $750 to help with rising health care costs

Full-time employees at Harford Community College will be getting a one-time “health care assistance payment” to help with the rising costs of health care.

Employees will also be moving from co-pays to co-insurance, where they will pay 10 percent of the total costs of services instead of a flat co-pay.

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“We as a user are having higher experiences and as a result, our healthcare costs are going up,” Brenda Morrison, vice president for external relations and communications, told members of the board of trustees at their meeting Tuesday.

The next fiscal year is the first in four years the costs of healthcare premiums are going up, she said. Initially expected to increase by 25 percent, the increase was reduced to 18.5 percent with a move from co-pays to co-insurance, she said.

“There is an opportunity for an individual to have much greater cost for out-of-pocket services in addition to higher premiums, which is a concern to us,” said Katie Callan, of the HCC budget office.

To help with the rising premium costs, the trustees approved a one-time payment of $750 to each employee, a cost of $266,250.

The co-insurance could work in an employee’s favor if they don’t use many services. Paying 10 percent of the cost of a doctor visit could be less than a co-pay, Callan she said.

Someone who is hospitalized or suffers a catastrophic injury, however, could “run up fairly significant healthcare expenses,” she said.

The maximum out-of-pocket expense for an individual is $2,000 and for a family is $4,000, Morrison said.

Of HCC’s 350 full-time employees, 88 percent carry health insurance, she said. Including the 40 retirees on the plan, 764 people are covered. The cost of the family plan, used by 37 percent of the staff, will increase the most.

Morrison, who came to HCC from the private sector, said the college has “an exceptionally generous health care plan” that covers about 85 percent of expenses for employees and their families.

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HCC is part of a consortium with Harford County Government and Harford County Public Schools, which reduces administrative costs of healthcare, Morrison said.

FY19 budget adjustments

As the FY19 budget nears year-end on June 30, HCC has saved approximately $2.74 million in salaries and fringe benefits, Morrison told the trustees.

The college’s executive leadership team recommended a number of ways to reallocate those savings, which were approved by the trustees.

The savings are coming from the instruction program ($1.8 million) and the instructional support program ($940,000), Morrison said.

“It was a very strong financial year for the college,” Morrison said. “We will not have that number next year, we do not anticipate that number is going to be that high, we think this is going to be unique.”

Morrison said she and other members of President Dianna Phillips’ executive leadership team met with faculty and other leaders across the campus to identify where the greatest needs are to reallocate $2.74 million.

Trustees approved the following transfers:

Deferred maintenance — $660,000 for projects such as replacing a boiler in Aberdeen Hall, water and sewer needs, upgrades to athletic facilities, the stairway on the student patio and generators at Hickory and Belcamp halls.

“Deferred maintenance is one of our most significant challenges,” Morrison said. “We have a pot of money to set aside to address various infrastructure needs across the campus.”

Deferred equipment/technology — $920,000, for equipment and technology in classrooms; for IT infrastructure and security needs and moving more backup to a cloud system; for a 20-passenger van for continuing education and athletics instead of renting a vehicle; for snow removal; improved dining services and point of sale equipment; and upgrades at the arena.

Chesapeake Center moves — $160,000, to cover moves during construction at the building.

HCC at Edgewood — $100,000 for planning to move the project forward

Amoss Center — $250,000 for “immediate safety needs” including repairs and replacement of rigging equipment and flooring.

Hays-Heighe House — $250,000 to transition the building to the Alumni House and office space for the HCC Foundation while it still services as a museum.

Building and grounds — $100,000 to preserve the college’s 350 acres of aging trees and plants and “support our welcoming campus environment.”

Approved by the trustees, the transfers must also be approved by the Harford County Council.

FY20 budget

Based on more accurate data and final budget numbers from the state, HCC revised its proposed budget for FY2020, which the trustees will finalize at their meeting in June.

The operating budget for next year increased by $447,021 from what was originally proposed to $51.3 million, a 1.78 percent increase (nearly $900,000) over this year’s budget of $50.4 million.

The budget includes a 3 percent increase in tuition, or $3.87 per credit hour. The increase translates to $34.83 per semester for a student taking nine credit hours and $46.44 for students taking 12 credits, Morrison said.

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