WEA insurance reports loss
By DINESH RAMDE
MILWAUKEE (AP) — WEA Trust, the not-for-profit insurer that covered about two-thirds of Wisconsin school districts last year, has seen its revenue decline almost $70 million after the state gave districts more freedom to switch insurers.
Despite the drop in revenue, WEA Trust officials say they’re confident in their long-term business plan. They say the trust has expanded its market beyond school districts to include municipalities and individual state employees, and they believe their customer service may coax former customers back.
A number of school districts — including current and former WEA Trust clients — agree that the insurer’s service has been consistently strong. However, they note that cost is always a key factor, and that WEA Trust’s longevity will depend on its ability to keep its prices competitive.
WEA Trust, a nonprofit and one of the state’s largest group-health insurers, was started 42 years ago by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union. It covered about 35 percent of all public school employees in the state last year, but its business took a hit after the Legislature passed a law eliminating collective bargaining right for most state employees.
The change gave districts more power to switch insurers — and many did. WEA Trust has lost about one-third of its business with school districts, spokesman Steve Lyons said.
“The thing with school districts, though, is they come and go all the time. We lose districts and we win some too,” Lyons said. “We’re adjusting to it.” ——— Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.