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Rates drop in 833's new insurance contract

South Washington County Schools' new contract with HealthPartners, its group insurance provider, includes double-digit premium decreases next year.

The district is renewing with HealthPartners for two years; the current five-year contract ends in December.

The new contract includes a 13-percent aggregate decrease in premiums across six plans in 2017, said Denise Griffith, the district's human resources director. Monthly rates will drop from $100 to $300 next year, depending on the plan.

"It's a great decrease," Griffith said.

The drop is the result of competitive bids for the new contract and a lower claim ratio by school employees insured through HealthPartners, Griffith said.

In the second year of the contract, any premium increase will be capped at 6 percent of the 2017 rates, but the actual change will depend on claims made next year. Still, that's a lower increase cap than other plans have, Griffith noted.

Employees' willingness to switch to a high-deductible insurance plan has also contributed to the favorable rates, School Board Chairman Ron Kath said as the board approved the contract July 14.

Employee unions decide how to split up their compensation between wages and benefits, and Kath said a 13-percent insurance premium drop gives unions more flexibility to put more money into wages.

More than 2,000 employees have district health insurance, Griffith said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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