The five associations representing school workers unveiled an innovative health insurance plan they described as a "win-win" situation for both employees and the Carroll Board of Education.

The "comprehensive multiple option plan" would allow the district's 2,000 insured workers to choose from three plans for health coverage.

Existing plans, including a "traditional" Blue Cross & Blue Shield package that provides complete coverage for many major medical bills, would be eliminated.

Modeled after a health plan currently out for bid in Prince George's County, the package would encourage workers to choose the most cost-efficient provider by means of lower deductibles and co-payments.

Under one option, for example, a worker would pay a $10 deductible for each family member annually and 10 percent of all medical costs. Those costs would be limited, however. A worker making $30,000 annually would not pay more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.

"The current system doesn't work," said Ronald T. Mulvihill, a

labor economist with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents Carroll maintenance and custodial workers. "(The costs) are killing all of us."

Ever-increasing health care costs have prompted the need for alternative insurance plans, school officials and workers have said.

The associations did not know how much the proposal would cost the Carroll schoolsystem.

But representatives said the plan has been evaluated by three major insurance carriers and a major employee benefits consultant, who said it was feasible.

Board representatives did not commenton the plan. They intend to have the district's insurance consultant, Alexander and Alexander Consulting Group, review the proposal.

The board unveiled its own proposal in December to boost the district's share of a custom comprehensive plan, which covers 80 percent of the "usual and customary" medical costs, in order to encourage workers to leave the more costly traditional plan.

Association representatives, however, said the proposal didn't address the overall issue of rising health care costs.

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