POTTSTOWN PA – Changes to federal law that allowed children of parents covered by health insurance to remain under the protection of those policies until they reach age 26 are proving to be unhealthily expensive for the Pottsgrove School District, Business Administrator David Nester reports.
Becoming more costly for Pottsgrove
Nester recently told the district Board of School Directors that an increasing number of adult children of Pottsgrove employees were being asked by their own employers to stay with their parents’ coverage as long as possible. The request, which Nester hinted was practically a condition of employment at some small businesses, is one of the factors driving up the cost of the district’s self-insured health plan.
“It’s a growing trend at smaller companies,” he acknowledged.
[box type="info" style="rounded"]The school board is scheduled tonight (Tuesday, April 10, 2012) to hear the first of several departmental presentations on the upcoming budget. Directors will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Ringing Rocks Elementary School, Kauffman Road, Pottstown PA. The meeting is open to the public.[/box]
Pottsgrove intends to budget an additional $685,000 to pay into its plan during the 2012-2013 school year to cover “some very bad experiences” it incurred this year, Nester warned board members. Besides having to pay for child coverage, he said, “we’ve had some expensive payouts” for seriously ill employees, and “a lot of hospitalizations,” all of which will “significantly” drive up premium costs for the district and its workers.
Potentially complicating matters is the fact that the district and its teachers’ union are in labor contract negotiations. Salaries and health care payments often top the list of most contentious items in such talks.
Before the federal Affordable Care Act was signed into law during March 2010, health insurance companies could remove children – termed “young adults” – from policies usually at age 19, and sometimes at older ages for full-time students. The act, dubbed by critics as “Obamacare,” extended coverage for young adults to age 26 at the parents’ discretion.
Children can join or remain on their parents’ plan even if they are married, not living with the parents, attending school, not financially dependent on the parents, or eligible to enroll in an employer’s plan, according to the act. That last allowance is taking a toll on Pottsgrove, Nester claimed.
Related (to the Pottsgrove School District 2012-2013 budget):