The Janesville School District’s health care plan is “significantly richer” than the average government plan, according to a consultant’s report.

However, the same report showed that plan users have fewer prescription and medical claims per member than other systems.

On Tuesday, the Janesville School Board will be asked to review a report from Cottingham & Butler, the district’s health care consulting firm.

The report is for the board’s information, and no action will be taken on Tuesday, said board member Steve Huth. The report also is not listed as an item for discussion.

Butler & Cottingham were hired by the district to negotiate health care costs with local medical insurance providers, Dean Health Plan and MercyCare. The firm also is charged with finding ways to save the district money without lowering the quality of benefits, said Huth, who is chairman of the board’s benefit’s committee.

“I wasn’t really surprised by any of the numbers (in the report),” Huth said. “The goal is to provide high-quality health care so you can recruit and retain employees.”

The report compared the district’s plan to Wisconsin benchmarks developed by the Health Care Cost Institute and Mercer, a company that specializes in compensation and benefit information.

The report found:

  • The district pays about 91.8 percent of the plan’s costs. That compares with about 82.4 percent in state and local government benchmarks. Before the passage of Act 10, the law that stripped public employee unions of most of their bargaining rights, employees picked up about 3 percent of health insurance costs with the district paying the remaining amount.

Along with significant increases in premiums, teachers and other union-represented employees have seen increases in deductibles, prescription costs and the cost of a variety of other services.

However, if the district changed its plan to the state and local government benchmark, it would save about $1.76 million.

  • School district employees on the health care plan spend less on medical claims than the Wisconsin benchmark. The district’s claim per member is $5,014, while the state benchmark is $5,106. Overall, that results in a savings of about $266,586.
  • School district employees spend less per member than the Wisconsin benchmark. The district’s claim rate is $1,054 per member, while the state’s is $1,103. Overall, the difference results in a savings of about $140,757.

Huth stressed that saving money on health care doesn’t have to mean raising the rates.

The report includes more than 30 suggestions to help save money, including auditing for invalid or duplicate claims, performing an audit to ensure all plan members are eligible to be a part of it, mandating second opinions, getting rid of dispensing limits for certain drugs and mandating mail order prescriptions for others, and using telemedicine.

Huth stressed that none of the ideas were being considered yet. In a few months, Cottingham & Butler will update the benefits committee on its negotiations with the local insurance providers, Huth said.

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