AKRON, Ohio – Akron Public Schools will offer employees and their families supplemental health insurance that’s designed to drive down costs. Health care will be offered out of a new facility established at the district’s administration building near downtown Akron.
The insurance will not replace the district’s existing health plan but will offer free supplemental care through Paladina Health. School employees can opt to sign up for the plan and the district will pay the fee — $99 for adults and $35 for children, said Akron Public Schools CFO Ryan Pendleton.
School board members on Monday gave the go-ahead for Akron-based Hasensab Architects to provide $39,000 in architectural work at 400 W. Market St. The site, has been a “swing space,” housing the school district’s elementary schools while new buildings were under construction.
Case Elementary students meet there now but will start at the new Case Community Learning Center next fall, said Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson. The building is also the future home of the LeBron James family Foundation I Promise School.
Officials hope the supplementary health care option will offer more accessible care to employees and drive down the district’s health care costs by offsetting rate increases.
Between school district employees and their dependents, 7,500-8,000 people are on the district’s health plan each year. The school district currently pays about $50 million a year for health insurance and medical benefits, such as disability insurance, Pendleton said.
However, rate increases have averaged about 10 percent, or about $5 million per year. The district’s hope is that supplemental insurance will slow or stop those increases by offering employees and their families high quality, accessible care.
Paladina doctors see from 700-800 patients per year, as opposed to regular doctors 2,500-3,000 patients per year, meaning Akron school district employees and their dependents will be seen more quickly and have more time with the physicians.
“This is a fairly new and positively disrupting approach,” Pendleton said. “A year from today I think we’ll be seeing very positive numbers and a positive return on investment.”
Adding the supplemental plan also gives the school district better bargaining power when negotiating with existing healthcare providers, who now “sharpen their pencils on some of the services they provide,” he said.
“We’re not going to lesson that $50 million initially but we can potentially cut in half what next year’s increase will be,” Pendleton said. “Those dollars are real when we can increase the health and welfare of employees.”