- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
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The St. Mary’s school board is receiving one last large refund from its health insurance provider, and some of that rebate will put extra money in employees’ December paychecks.
Greg Nourse, assistant superintendent of fiscal services and human resources, said CareFirst, which manages the school system’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield group and retiree health insurance, is refunding about $2.5 million that was overpaid by schools last year.
“Some of that goes back to employees,’ Nourse said. More than $500,000 of those overpayments were paid by employees, he said.
Superintendent Michael Martirano said the “health-care holidays” for employees will show up on two paychecks in December for active employees and on the one December check retirees receive. There will be no deductions for health insurance made on those checks, a refund that works out to a holiday bonus.
The school system this year changed the way it makes insurance payments, and instead of paying average monthly bills up front, it now sends weekly payments to cover actual expenses. This $2.5 million refund to reconcile the fiscal year 2012 budget will be the last of its kind for the school system, Nourse said.
The remainder of the refund, which was initially paid through the school board’s operating budget, will be used to contribute to the other post-employment benefits trust fund set up to pay for future benefits to school employees.
Government organizations, including public school systems and county governments, must contribute to the trust fund to pay for health and other benefits of retirees. That $1.9 million makes up only a small fraction of the tens of millions that must eventually be contributed to the trust fund by the school board.
The supplemental appropriation of $1.9 million added to the general fund and earmarked for the OPEB payment will now go to the county commissioners for approval. The commissioners had asked earlier this year that any extra money such as a health insurance refund be used as a contribution to the OPEB fund. The county government also included $2.6 million in the schools’ fiscal 2013 budget to put toward other post-employment benefits fund for school employees.