School districts join together to save on health insurance - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

School districts join together to save on health insurance

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Durand (WQOW)- The rising cost of health care has been a consistent budget concern for school districts in recent years.

They spend hours and hours trying to figure out how to reign in costs.  One area school district found it's better to team up than go it alone.

Things are going pretty well for the Durand School District.  Student test scores are in the top 25 in the state and Tuesday night, the school board signed off on some big savings.

While many school districts are struggling to find an answer to rising healthcare costs, the Durand School District says its costs have dropped significantly.

"We would have experienced had we stayed with self-funded about an 18-percent increase in premiums.  Through WEA, we were able to experience about a 14-percent decrease in premiums," explains Durand Superintendent Greg Doverspike.  "It was a pretty substantial swing for our school district."

The district says that amounts to the average employee saving about $350 a year.

"We were hoping for a single-digit increase and to get a double-digit decrease was a huge gift for our school district and we are very happy with the results," Doverspike says points out.

So how did it happen?  As the saying goes, there's strength in numbers.  Durand joined a co-op with nine area school districts to enhance its position at the bargaining table.

"We are probably at about 200, 250 lives when you count all the family plans of people on our policy," adds Doverspike.  "Well you can throw 1,200 lives on there when you join all these school districts together.  If you have that one person that has a traumatic experience or unfortunately, is able to get something like cancer, you can spread out that dollar amount."

Bargaining power that can help protect employees and the district's budget; something other school districts would like to duplicate.

The Durand School District says going through WEA will save money, but won't change the coverage options for employees.  Some of the other school districts in the co-op include New Auburn, Bruce, Birchwood and Turtle Lake.

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