College board approves new health care plans

Joshua Kellogg
  • The premiums for employee health insurance coverage increased by about 8 percent.
  • Two new health care plans will be offered to employees next year.

FARMINGTON — San Juan College employees will see a change in their health-care plans next year after the college board renewed a contract with its current health-care provider.

The San Juan College board approved an updated contract for employee health insurance Monday that will result in an approximate 8 percent increase in employee premiums.

The board members approved renewing the college's contract with Cigna for employee and retiree health plans for 2017 during their board meeting Monday.

Cigna replaced Presbyterian Healthcare Services as the college’s health insurance provider this year.

There was an increase of about 8 percent to the employees’ health insurance premiums, according to Ed DesPlas, the vice president for administrative services. The total cost increase in employee health insurance premiums was about $416,000 with the college paying about $263,000, and employees picking up the rest, DesPlas said.

Two new health care plans will be offered to employees, replacing the current HMO and PPO plans. DesPlas said the new plans were developed after initial negotiations with Cigna for renewal of the current HMO plan included a proposed 19 percent increase to premiums.

“We couldn’t afford 19 percent,” DesPlas said. “We started to work with Cigna to make changes in the plan to reduce that increase to what we are looking at now.”

A PPO core plan and a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) are the two new options being offered by the college.

Desplas described the core plan as having higher copays for office visits, urgent care and emergency room visits than the HMO plan.

The premiums for the core plan are about 9 percent higher than the current HMO plan, which will not be offered next year. Desplas said the plan would be good for employees who visit a doctor's office about three to five times a year.

The HDHP will offer a lower premium cost but has a higher deductible than the core health care plan. As part of the HDHP, the college will pay $50 monthly into an employees’ health savings account.

Desplas said employees will need to pay the $2,500 deductible before the benefits of the plan — which pays for 80 percent of costs, including office visits and prescription medication — take effect. He said the HDHP plan is good for employees who have a high-level need for health care or who rarely visit a doctor.

The college will also make minimal decreases to the percentage it contributes to an employees’ health-care coverage. Depending on an employee’s salary, the college is cutting what it pays into an employees’ health-care plan by 0.5 to 1.5 percentage points. An employee making more than $60,000 annually will see the college's contribution drop from 60 percent this year to 58.5 percent of his or her health-care coverage costs next year.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.