Towns can dip into health care pool

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REGION 16 — The towns of Beacon Falls and Prospect now have the option of joining Region 16’s medical insurance.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, voted last week to allow the towns to join their health care coverage.

Officials from both towns had requested to join the school board’s plan in an effort to save money, since both towns are considered small groups for medical insurance. The idea was reviewed by school and town officials. Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said pooling with the school district can be beneficial for the towns.

“If we can help the towns that are supporting us, I think it really moves us to a better partnership,” Yamin said.

If the towns choose to participate, Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini said, each town and the region will have their own individual plans and be billed separately. All of the claims from the towns and the region will be grouped when it comes time to renew the plan, she said.

Mangini said the towns are required to give 60 days notice if they plan to participate in the insurance plan.

Anthem is the health care provider for the school district. There are currently about 260 school employees covered by the district’s health care, Mangini said.

Prospect has 21 full-time employees, while Beacon Falls has about 15 employees eligible for health care coverage.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said the town is still in the process of talking with its health care provider and employees. But, he said, he’s hoping to join the district’s medical insurance by Sept. 1.

Chatfield said the town will save a substantial amount of money by joining the region’s insurance. He didn’t want to estimate how much the savings would be, since it’s not set yet. However, he said, “It will be a considerable amount of money.”

Beacon Falls First Selectman Chris Bielik couldn’t be reached for comment.

School officials said last week the switch may keep the health care cost for Beacon Falls about the same, but it’s a little better plan. The town recently switched to a Health Savings Account plan, which is a high-deductible plan.