The Carroll County school system will save $300,000 by switching health insurance carriers and use the money to make up for state revenue cuts for the fiscal year beginning July 1, said William Hyde, assistant superintendent for administration.
The school board approved last week switching from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland to Aetna Health Plans for its more than 2,200 employees. The change takes effect Sept. 1, when the current Blue Cross contract expires.
The school board's share of employee health insurance premiums for the 1993-1994 school year still will rise $478,000, to $6.8 million. The board pays 100 percent of an individual's coverage and 95 percent of the coverage for dependents.
Employee costs for a family plan will go up in September from the current $9.67 every two weeks to $10.42.
"It's a significant accomplishment," said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling. "We have moved from a rate that was a 22 percent increase to an increase of [7.7] percent. It's a change I think we have to make on behalf of the taxpayers of Carroll County."
Mr. Hyde said employees will receive a list of all doctors in the area who participate with Aetna. If their current doctors are not on the list, school officials will contact the doctors to try to persuade them to accept the insurer.
"We know that the Aetna network is smaller than the Blue Cross network. We don't know how many of our employees are affected. I know this one is," he said of himself.
He said Aetna would reimburse patients for seeing a doctor outside the plan but would pay a smaller portion of the cost.
The schools had accounted for the Blue Cross premium increase this spring for the 1993-1994 budget. But the system also had based its budget on the expectation of more state money than it will actually get, Mr. Hyde said. He said the state will send at least $500,000 less to Carroll in the state's APEX program for academic excellence alone.
"When you take $300,000 [in savings], that's not a number to sneeze at," Mr. Hyde said. "It will help make up for a loss in state revenue" for the coming year.