Plan Snapshot: Pressures on health benefits budget continue

A few months back, HealthConnect described the challenges involved in providing and managing quality health care benefits for the nearly 25,000 people who participate in the JHMB’s benefits plan. And while the plan is performing admirably, budgetary pressures and other factors are continuing to create a challenging environment for the FUSD and its plan participants.

Over the last year, the FUSD’s plans have continued to provide benefits to about the same number of people. But cuts in funding to the Fresno Unified School District have resulted in fewer dollars going into the plan.

According to numbers provided by plan administration, the plan has 526 fewer “actives” than last year.  According to the terms of its collective bargaining agreements, the Fresno Unified School District contributes a specific amount per active employee. The number of “active” participants affects the amount of funding the plan receives; with fewer actives, there is less funding.

Additionally, 520 participants took early retirement last year, and because the FUSD does not make contributions to the plan for retirees, the increased number of retirees covered has placed additional pressure on the plan’s budget.

Factor in the ongoing inflation in medical expenses, and you reach the bottom line: The FUSD and the JHMB needs to provide quality medical benefits to the same number of people, with fewer dollars coming in, in an environment where medical costs are getting more expensive. Or more simply: The plan needs to meet greater expenses, with less money coming in.
Part of the JHMB’s mission is to adapt to challenges like these. The JHMB needs to balance its mission of providing these benefits with the realities of a reduced budget. That’s a serious challenge, indeed.

As always, the JHMB will keep its participants informed about the ways it will adapt, keeping in mind its mission of providing quality healthcare benefits at a reasonable cost to our plan participants.

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