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School Board OKs new health provider

The Superior School Board approved a new health care provider for district employees at a special board meeting Monday. The School District of Superior will enter into a one-year contract with WEA Trust, a not-for-profit company based in Wisconsin, for the 2017-2018 school year.

The move affects close to 400 employees, who will see their monthly contributions increase slightly, from an additional $5.62 per month on the single plan to an additional $17.98 per month for a family plan. The district's contributions will also rise to cover health insurance premiums, an overall increase of 8.9 percent. According to information provided at the meeting, the district will spend nearly $5.25 million on its share of insurance premiums for employees in 2017-2018.

The district has been with current provider HealthPartners for the past six years, according to Business Manager Alayna Burger, and puts out bids for health insurance either every year or every other year, depending on the contract.

WEA Trust focuses solely on public-sector business, according to Jon Klett, vice president of sales, marketing and product development. He said the company insures 104 of Wisconsin's 424 school districts, including Bayfield.

"The district has been insured with WEA Trust for many years," said Bayfield Superintendent David Aslyn. "We have been pleased with them as a provider."

The Wisconsin-based insurance company offers value added services such as a wellness program that focuses on more than just exercise, a tiered prescription drug benefit that offers no co-pay for 50 common medications, 24/7 telehealth medical services for urgent care and behavioral health issues and a program called Livongo that provides free diabetes management equipment and test strips.

"We want to take every obstacle away," said account executive Mark Henschel.

Board member Robert Morehouse asked if employees would reach a real person if they called with questions.

"We always have a live person answer the phone," Henschel said.

"The No. 1 compliment we get at the company is that it's nice to talk to a real person," Klett said.

District employees were assured that WEA Trust's network of providers matches their current one, and includes the Mayo Clinic.

The district will make the switch to WEA Trust effective July 1.