San Juan College board approves new insurance contracts

Joshua Kellogg
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan College employees can expect to see an increase in their health care costs after the college board last week approved new agreements with insurance providers.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved new contracts for employees' health, dental, vision and life insurance policies.

Among the changes is a new health insurance provider. Next year, Cigna will replace Presbyterian Healthcare Services as the college's health insurance provider, said Janet Hebbe, the college's interim human resources director.

The one-year contract comes with about a 9 percent increase to employees' health insurance premiums, said Sherrie Biringer, the college's benefits manager.

For those who earn less than $50,000 a year, a single employee on the HMO plan will see about a $10 monthly increase, and family HMO coverage will increase about $30 per month. The increases are scheduled to go into effect in January.

In April, the college board approved a budget contingency fund of $300,000 to account for a possible cost increase. About $150,000 of the contingency was used to cover additional expenses, said Russell Litke vice president for administrative services.

The college's health insurance costs increased to about $3.7 million.

Litke said no decisions have been made about how to spend the remaining $150,000 in the contingency fund.

"If it's not utilized for something else, the president will have the authority to obligate that to another need in the college," Litke said. "If not, it'll roll into the general fund."

He said leftover money could go toward the proposed salary adjustments in this year's budget. The adjustments are set to go into effect if specific revenue goals are met.

A total of $487,000 was put into an contingency fund to pay for raises if the college reached 98 percent of its fall 2015 tuition and fees revenue goal by Oct. 31.

Last school year, officials implemented about $868,000 in raises for faculty.

Litke said the college board will likely vote on salary adjustments at its Nov. 3 meeting.

College employees' dental insurance will remain with Delta Dental, and Mutual of Omaha will continue to handle life and disability insurance. Rates with both providers are expected to remain the same.

Employees can also expect to see a 6 percent increase in their vision insurance plans, which are provided by Vision Service Plan, or VSP. That amounts to an increase of about 36 cents for a single employee earning less than $50,000 a year. Biringer said the vision insurance rates will remain the same for the next four years.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.