Chris Causey

Chris Causey

At their planning meeting last Monday, the Robertson County School Board discussed new possible changes to their employee health insurance, especially for part time employees.

The current number of required hours for school employees to qualify for insurance is 30, but the board is looking at getting that number reduced to cover more staff.

“There is a possibility for a resolution to be presented to the Board of Mayor and Alderman and voted on where that number can be moved down to 25 hours,” Director of Schools Dr. Chris Causey said. This would include a great deal of workers, including a number of bus drivers as well as food and nutrition staff.”

Part-time cafeteria workers work 27 ½ hours and do not meet the current threshold to qualify for health insurance.

James Smith, CEO of Five Points Benefits Solutions, an insurance brokerage and benefits consultancy for schools and governments, was present at the meeting, and presented to the board an estimate of the potential cost for this new insurance plan.

“We need to know how many are going to participate in order to get a good number, but our current estimates show this costing up to $11,193 per part-time employee,” Smith said.

The Robertson County school system currently employs 224 part-time workers. If up to 50 percent are enrolled in the school’s insurance plan, the estimated cost for the district could be up to $1.2 million per year, including bus drivers and daycare, according to Smith.

The estimated budget is for the following school year and would need to be approved before open enrollment next August.

Bus drivers will be required to have worked for a full 12 months in order to qualify.

Eighty one percent of the school district’s 1,466 full-time employees are currently covered with health insurance. The combined district cost for both part-time and full-time employees was estimated at $15,290,036 per year.

There is also a spousal surcharge for state employees, where an employee must pay an additional cost to cover a spouse that does not have their own health insurance, or declined the insurance offered by their own employer.

Health clinic

Also discussed as an alternative to health insurance for more part-time workers was the proposal of building an onsite health clinic, which would provide health care to the City of Springfield employees and Robertson County Schools employees.

All part-time employees would be eligible to use the clinic with no hourly cap, and also would include full-time employees, board members, and retirees.

Any child of an employee over two years of age can also use the clinic.

“This is a completely private and HIPPA compliant service,” Smith said. It is independent of any hospital chain, and there will be a $0 out-of-pocket cost to eligible employees.”

Acute, primary, and urgent care would be offered, as well as stress management, treatment, and counseling, all free of charge. Patients can pick up anxiety medication at no cost and receive COVID testing and treatment as well.

According to Smith, the total projected employee savings from the proposed health clinic would be around $714,418 annually, with an average savings per employee of $436. The net cost for the district after savings is roughly $280,000 per year.

“It takes about a 90-day period to get the clinic set up and ready to go,” Smith said. “This is a free nurse practitioner clinic with supporting nurses. We handle the recruiting and management of nurses. You get to determine who’s eligible, what the clinic can provide, and employees can come to it.”

The clinic would be open five days a week, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. While workers would have to find other sources of care if needed in the evenings and on weekends, Smith said other clinics like these that they provide are fairly swift in seeing patients during weekdays.

On average, Five Points clinics see around 24-25 people a day, with an average wait time of eight minutes and an average visit of 22 minutes, according to Smith.

More discussions among the school board regarding these health care issues with a planned vote and resolution will be made in the coming months.