EAST HARTFORD — — After rejecting an earlier proposal, town council voted unanimously Wednesday to accept the latest revision of a new teachers’ contract.
The new contract contains deadlines for teachers to switch to a high deductible health plan, a form of medical insurance that was optional for current teachers under a previous version of the contract that was rejected in July.
According to a summary of the contract provided to the council, the new contract contains a three-part phase-in: By July 1, 2013, a third of all teachers receiving health insurance from the school board must be enrolled in the high deductible plan; two thirds must enroll by July 1, 2014; and all teachers must enroll by July 1, 2015.
“I just want to say, thanks to [union president] Karen O’Connell and the entire teachers union who did ratify this with an overwhelming majority — all but two of the 555 who voted on this accepted it,” said school board Chairman Jeffrey Currey.
Council members sais the contract could potentially set a new standard for negotiating health insurance benefits and many praised the collaborative effort.
“[It seems] you’ve hit those goals and I just appreciate the direction that was taken,” council member Eric Thompson told Currey.
Council Chairman Richard Kehoe said that the contract, which is the town’s largest at $44 million in annual wages, could help reduce medical costs by reducing claims.
“If you go the high deductible route, it creates a series of incentives for people to be more healthy, to be more careful with how they use health insurance,” he said.
The high deductible plan carries a $1,500 deductible for individual coverage and a $3,000 deductible for individual-plus-one or family coverage. However, the school board said it will pay 50 percent of the deductible per year for each teacher who elects the plan.
Teachers who enroll in the high deductible plan will pay for about 15 percent of the overall cost of their policies for three different plans: employees pay roughly $1,300 of $8,380 for an individual plan; $2,600 of $16,700 for an individual-plus-one plan; $3,500 of a $22,100 family plan.