A health insurance plan proposed by Carroll school workers requires more study and will not be implemented this year.

"Portions of theplan were of interest to the board but they require a considerable amount of study," said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration. "There is not enough time to enable us to study it, negotiate it and have it become part of the (health insurance) plan."

The school board's current insurance contracts with its carriers expire on Aug. 31. The open enrollment period for employees begins inMay and Hyde said school officials need considerable time to not only negotiate a health plan with workers, but also with potential carriers.

Countering a proposal offered by the school board, the associations representing five groups of workers unveiled an innovative insurance plan that would allow employees to choose from three options, all significantly different than the three options now available.

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 medical costs would be limited, however.

Currently, workers pay anywhere from $6.27 a month to $31.78 a month for individual coverage and $101.56 to $153.27 a month for family coverage under the plansoffered by the district.

A majority of school workers are enrolled in a Blue Cross & Blue Shield traditional plan, which provides complete coverage for many medical bills. The cost of that plan, initially expected to increase by 50 percent next year, has been revised to about a 25 percent boost.

Even so, in an effort to encourage workers to switch to a less costly custom comprehensive plan, which covers 80 percent of the "usual and customary" medical costs, the board has proposed to boost its subsidy for that coverage.

In addition to its response to the counter proposal, the board offered to put in place some additional dollars in a health insurance fund -- flexible spending accounts -- to assist workers with dependent care or medical expenses.

The associations, which represent teachers, custodians, food service workers, administrators and secretaries, asked the board tonegotiate the insurance plan with the groups collectively.

However, Hyde said the board would negotiate with each group individually.

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