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Schools hits with $1.3M health insurance increase
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Kimberly Boim

All schools in Georgia, including Dawson County, are about to absorb another increase in health insurance costs. This time its three times higher.

Beginning this fall, schools can expect to pay an additional $150 per month per employee for every non-certified worker in their system, according to Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. Dawson County has 235 non-certified employees bringing the per year cost to $423,000. The increase is in effect for three years and extends through 2015. The three-year tab for Dawson County is $1.3M. This increase is in addition to a $50 per month per employee increase that took effect last year.

This increase comes at an especially difficult time for school systems, said Porter. We will continue to make some very tough decisions, while trying to weigh the potential impact on the students.

Porter learned of the increase at a Dec. 9, 2011 meeting at the Department of Community Health (DCH) in Atlanta. The meeting was requested by the Georgia School Superintendent Association. Porter serves on the board of directors for the association along with Chris Erwin, Superintendent for Banks county, and Dr. Samuel King, Superintendent for Rockdale County.

The increases are due to a rising number of claims and the decision to spend $400M in reserves in 2010. They (DCH) were at a point of having difficulty paying claims, according to Porter.

In a statement released by DCHs media manager, Pamela Keene, the $150 increase per member per month for non-certified employees over the next several years will help bring employer contributions for these employees in line with what other employers are contributing to the SHBP (State Health Benefit Plan). DCH determined that employer contributions for non-certified employees were far less than the traditional 75 percent employer contribution made by employers for other teachers and state employees.

Dawson County Schools currently pay 15.38 percent of non-certified employees salaries to cover health insurance, plus an additional $86.10 per month per employee, according to Porter.

Non-certified employees include teaching assistants, clerical support, custodians, transportation workers, child nutritionists and media assistants.