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SISD covers increase in insurance plan

Sharyland ISD’s new stop loss insurance policy went into effect Jan. 1 with an increase of $540,380. However, administrators ensure the rise in price does not affect the plan members’ wallets.

The SISD board of trustees awarded Granular Insurance with the stop loss insurance contract at the December school board meeting. Granular submitted one of two proposals the district received in the contract bidding process — the other was from Assured Benefits Administrators, who also held the contract with Sharyland ISD last year.

ABA’s outgoing premium was $1,184,318, while their new proposal for 2024 was $1,409,887. Granular’s proposed premium, which the school board approved, was $1,724,698 — a 45.6% increase from last year.

But board members Maritza Venecia and David Keith told the community to trust the process.

“Even though it looks like a 45% increase it’s actually not,” Keith said. “It’s something that I believe is going to benefit our district.”

Director of Maintenance and Risk Management Mark Dougherty said that the decision on the insurance firm selection came down to the deductible for high-cost claimants.

Last year, Sharyland ISD had a $125,000 deductible on every member of the insurance plan. Once a member reached the $125,000 deductible, the stop loss insurance reimbursed the district. But in the new proposal from incumbent Assured Benefits Administrators, they wanted to increase the premium and the deductible for high-cost claimants or “risk exposures,” which could cost the district more in the long run.

To ensure SISD was getting the best deal, administration took the contract to bid in the open market. When Granular Insurance submitted their proposal, the company had a different approach to the rising medical cost problem.

“We had [Granular] say, ‘I’ll charge you a little bit more premium than the renewal but you’ll have zero extra risk exposure.’ And we felt better with that because now we know we have a firm fixed cost going forward,” Dougherty explained. “We don’t have to worry about any surprises that come up because we know that every employee is insured at $125,000. And anything above that, we will get reimbursed for that. So it protects the plan. Yes, we paid a little bit more premium but we felt it was definitely worth the risk exposure that we had, had we gone the other route.”

Dougherty reiterated 45.6% increase comes from district funds — it is the cost to buy the plan. There is no extra cost to the employees.

“We run a very tight ship. So everything that we can do that can help our plan to help keep our costs down, we look at those avenues because everything else is going up,” the director of risk management said. “So whatever we can try to do to save the employee, we look at all those options for them.”

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