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Hillsborough schools weigh leaner health plan and budget

TAMPA — Hillsborough County teachers and staffers will get their first glimpse today of a more frugal health care plan, part of the district's effort to close a shortfall of more than $41 million in next year's budget.

The 3 p.m. School Board meeting also will include the first of two public hearings on the district's tentative $2.8 billion budget and property tax levy. The hearing is at school headquarters, 901 E. Kennedy Blvd.

The school's portion of the property tax is proposed at $7.59 for every $1,000 of taxable value.

Under the Humana health plan up for adoption, the district will still pay the full cost of a comprehensive policy, as required under its contract with teachers. But co-payments will rise, and employees on that plan will lose the ability to see out-of-network doctors or specialists. Those who want that option can pay more for a premium plan.

"I don't think there's any scenario in which any employee won't pay more," benefits manager Deborah Henry told the St. Petersburg Times last month. "Even if there's a zero premium, the co-payments are going up."

District officials were shocked to learn that claim costs had shot up by around 12 percent. Keeping the existing health plan without changes would have added $29 million to last year's total of $120.4 million.

Coming on top of increases in electricity, utilities and retirement costs, such health care increases would have been impossible to bear, said finance director Gretchen Saunders. As it is now, next year's Humana plan will cost $129 million.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough schools weigh leaner health plan and budget 07/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:03am]

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