Employee Benefits Savings

By Naomi Dillon

While the U.S. economy has been looking up recently, the recovery has been slow to reach states and school districts. And with many states still facing budget gaps in the next fiscal year, districts must continue to find ways to save money and keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.

One area of money-saving potential is employee benefits. In fact, containing health care costs has dominated national attention in recent years, with federal and state legislation addressing the issue to varying degrees.

Signed into law in March 2010, President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act penalizes employers and individuals without coverage, subsidizes coverage for middle-class and working families, and forces insurance providers to keep rate increases reasonable. It faces stiff opposition and a legal challenge that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on by late June.

Meanwhile, several states have targeted health care benefits as part of a broader reform on public employee and collective bargaining rights. Although these political and legislative activities have had an impact on many district operations, by and large, the economy remains the biggest and most immediate obstacle to achieving balanced budgets.

With that in mind, school districts and school boards still can realize some savings while they continue to offer health care benefits to their employees.

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