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Ironton teachers agree to health care concessions

IRONTON — In a move that demonstrates the reality of the current economic crisis, members of the Ironton Education Association have agreed to numerous health care concessions in an effort to assist the district of the anticipated rising costs associated with insuring Ironton’s teachers.

The compromise, which comes in the midst of contract negotiations with the union and the Ironton Board of Education, triples the annual deductible union members pay for coverage.

The vote also approves the district to finalize its agreement with Medical Mutual of Ohio to take over health coverage.

United HealthCare currently insures the district.

Under the new agreement, the annual deductible for a single individual will increase from $100 annually to $300 while the annual deducible for family coverage will rise from $200 a year to $600.

The co-payment distribution does not change with the district picking up 85 percent of health care costs after the deducible is met and the insured paying for the remaining 15 percent.

The change in health insurance providers for Ironton Schools follows the recent decision by the Lawrence County Schools’ Health Insurance Consortium to switch coverage to Medical Mutual.

The consortium — a conglomerate of Lawrence County school public and private school superintendents and principals — negotiates health coverage as a single body, rather than individual districts, in the attempt to receive a greater reduced group rate in negotiations.

The consortium’s decision to leave United HealthCare means that all schools districts within the county who are part of the group will now have health coverage with Medical Mutual.

However, the IEA had language in its contract that specifically stated the $100 single and $200 family deductibles that required a union vote to open up the contract and change the wording. The vote took place earlier this month.

“I am proud that our union voted to change their contract to save the district money in health insurance,” Superintendent Dean Nance said following the board’s unanimous vote Tuesday to enter into the Medical Mutual agreement.

If the union had voted down the concessions, Nance said the district and its bargaining employees would have had to go out on their own to find similar coverage, something Nance added would have been very difficult to undertake based on rising costs.

Before the vote Nance said that without the new agreement, the district was looking at a possible 15 percent increase in health care costs and based on the current economic conditions would have put significant financial distress on the district.