Upsala Schools add health compensation

Staff Writer

Amid the constant changes of the health insurance industry, the Upsala School Board has made some changes to employee health care compensation.

Following a presentation by John Holthaus of Primary Benefit Services in Little Falls and Rudy Allebach of HR Simplified in Minneapolis, the Board voted March 26, to drop Health Partners coverage for one of its employees, instead proposing to form a defined contribution plan through Primary Benefit Services.

“It’s another way to look at health care for employees,” Holthaus said. “It’s becoming more popular for small employers with less than 50 employees.”

Holthaus explained that with a defined contribution plan, the employer defines a benefit contribution for its employees to use for individual insurance plans.

“Each employee then chooses their own plan that fits them and their family,” he said. “The employer contribution is a tax-free benefit.”

Persons with insurance through this type of arrangement will have an open-enrollment opportunity each fall. They can choose a new plan if their needs change.

“When matching benefits between types of plans, my experience has shown that in most cases, the individual premium is lower than a traditional group plan premium,” said Holthaus. “Within the same system as their insurance, an employee can pre-tax medical expenses, health savings account (HSA) contributions and day care costs.”

Upsala certified staff are covered under a health care plan through the Public Employees Insurance Program (PEIP), effective May 1, 2013 through Jan. 1, 2015.

“Every group that has made the change loves it,” said Holthaus. “The transition is the roughest part; after that, it runs itself.”

Upsala School Board Briefs

Other business that came before the Upsala School Board March 26, included:

• Endorsing the candidacy of Sharon Ballou for board member of Region Five Development Commission;

• Hearing that snow make-up days for the year will be May 27-29 as student days;

• Discussing the possibility of a cooperative sponsorship with Swanville in junior high girls basketball, where Swanville’s numbers are very low;

• Approved the season’s coaches, including the addition of a junior high track coach (to be announced by Supt. Gery Arndt). Coaches include: Brady Burggraff as assistant baseball, Amanda Wuebkers as junior high softball with John Fuchs and Matt Swanson as volunteer assistant coaches for baseball;

• Approving non-certified staff policy, including a raise for staff of $1 per hour for 2014-15 and 50 cents  per hour for 2015-16. A lunch break will no longer be paid. Caps on the bus drivers’ meal allowances were removed; and

• Approving contributions from the Upsala Lions Club of $300 for the geography bee, $500 for post-prom, $100 for boys basketball all-star game, $500 for the band trip and $2,500 for kindergarten readiness. Donations were accepted for the robotics program from Standard Iron of $1,000 and from Minnesota Power of $500.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.