Treasurer Jennifer Vanover advised the Licking Heights school board Aug. 23 that health insurance rates are projected to rise by more than 20 percent this year, prompting her to request bids to provide the district health insurance contract that begins Oct. 1.

Treasurer Jennifer Vanover advised the Licking Heights school board Aug. 23 that health insurance rates are projected to rise by more than 20 percent this year, prompting her to request bids to provide the district health insurance contract that begins Oct. 1.

Vanover said health-savings accounts (HSA) are being considered as an option. In this option, employees would have a tax-advantaged cash account to pay deductibles and incidental medical expenses in a high-deductible health insurance plan. Premiums are typically cheaper in such plans.

Vanover said she was confident the district could avoid the 20-percent increase.

"We're not going to pay 20 percent, I promise that," Vanover said.

She said bids are due this week.

"This may be a time to make a move, if someone aggressively markets and gives us better rates," Vanover said.

Usually, districts that adopt HSA plans provide cash payments to fund the accounts.

"The amount you pay out by self-funding the deductible is significantly less than the savings (in the premiums)," Vanover said.

When the board examined the HSA option a few years ago, Vanover said, one reason the district did not choose the plan was that the paperwork requirements were too cumbersome. Current offerings are more user-friendly, Vanover said.

"Part of the pushback when we presented it before was the paperwork and wanting it back in salaries," Vanover said. "They are presenting a new product out there now where there is essentially no paperwork. You get an explanation of benefits, you FAX it in and they send you a check.

"It's a streamlined process and it tends to save a significant amount in premiums."

In other business, Vanover reported that investment returns for cash savings have continued to be nominal, ranging from 0.02 percent in a state-approved savings program to 0.2 percent at a local bank.

"It's 10 times higher," Vanover said, laughing. "It sounds better to say it that way."

Superintendent Philip Wagner said he was moving forward with a technology audit, expecting to finalize a contract during the coming week to have the various components of the district's computer infrastructure, including its network, reviewed for potential adjustments.

"I think it will help from a budgeting standpoint," Wagner said. "We'll be able to say, here is a three- to five-year plan (for capital technology)."

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