As Pasco County Schools seeks out an additional source of funding for employee pay raises, through a voter referendum, it also is dealing with increasing costs for insurance.
During the May 3 Pasco County School Board meeting, Kevin Shibley, assistant superintendent for administration, briefed the board on rising health insurance costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic, he told the board, “obviously changed the dynamics of our health insurance plan fairly significantly.
“You will see that we have experienced a drastic increase in claims to the plan; revenues have been stable, which is good, but when claims are increasing and revenue is not, you start to run into deficit issues.
“We do believe that some of this is a result of increased COVID claims, so we have been using some of the federal relief money to plug those holes, but we are also not convinced that all of the increases are a result of COVID claims, so there are some pretty significant discussions happening within the insurance committee right now, to discuss how to handle those recurring claims that will persist, once the COVID claims run out and we stop receiving bills and invoices for those claims.
“For the current fiscal year, cash flow for the health insurance fund is actually negative $9.4 million, so that is a pretty significant deficit.
“Again, a good portion of that is connected to COVID claims that are being paid by the plan, but not all of them are.
“So, we will continue to work with the committee, about not only ways to raise revenue, but also to restructure the plan and the claims liability and make some claims design changes to bring that budget into balance for next year.”
School board member Allen Altman, who serves on the district’s insurance committee told his colleagues: “There will have to be some changes of some sort, and they’re aware of that. Mr. (Don) Peace and his team (from United School Employees of Pasco) are equal partners on that committee, and they’re already cooperatively working toward moving ahead and trying to get ahead of that.”
The news isn’t good on the property insurance front, either, Altman said.
“I don’t think there is anybody in the room that is not aware that the property market in Florida is just in utter chaos,” Altman said.
He said he recently attended a meeting involving the group that represents hundreds of government entities.
“Florida is now viewed as the most difficult state in the union for a municipality or school district or government entity to get insurance. Both property and liability,” Altman said.
On average, reinsurance costs are running about 30% higher. By comparison, Pasco’s increase is expected to be about 9%, Altman said.
“We’re fortunate. There are some other districts, coastal districts, but south of us, that are struggling to even get a renewal offer,” Altman said.
The entire state is grappling with property insurance issues — prompting calls for legislative action to address the problem.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has called a special session of the Legislature, which is scheduled to convene on May 23 and to end on May 27. The purpose of the session to is consider legislation relating property insurance, reinsurance, the Office of Insurance, civil remedies and appropriations.
Published May 18, 2022