Possible changes to health plan concern teachers union


Anne Arundel teachers union officials are concerned about a proposal to switch one of the school system's health insurance options from Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield to United Healthcare.

If accepted by school board members at their Aug. 4 meeting, the five-year contract would go into effect Jan 1, saving $1.4 million in the current fiscal year, which ends in June, said Lin Blackman, director of human resources.

Nearly half of the school system's more than 10,000 employees had selected the Carefirst option. Most of them are represented by one of four unions that bargain for school system employees.

Elements of the contract with the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, the largest union, specifically refer to Carefirst, said President Sheila Finlayson. Members are worried that some of their doctors may not be part of the new network.

"I want the details, and I still need the information," she said last week. "This may take us back to the bargaining table."

Blackman said human resources staff members are comparing claims records with the new participants list to determine the overlap. She added that United Healthcare will be merging with another large provider, which would expand the list of physicians.

"We believe the coverage will be seamless for our employees," Blackman said, adding that some services are superior.

Under the Carefirst agreement, co-payments for mental health visits increased as the number of visits increased, she said. The new plan charges a flat rate for an unlimited number of visits.

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