AASD inks deal on health care plan
District enters into agreement with Cigna
LOCAL NEWS JUL 20, 2020 – RICK BOSTON – Staff Writer
The Altoona Area School District Board of Directors voted Thursday to accept an agreement with Cigna Health Services to settle concerns its employees have with their health care plan.
District health care consultant Pat Reilly said Cigna is a national network that is accepted by UPMC. Reilly said that Trustmark still will be the administrator of the district’s plan.
Earlier this month, UPMC went public with its concerns over the Altoona Area School District’s new health care plan for district employees.
The school board voted in May to switch third-party providers and signed on with Trustmark, a move, UPMC contended, that meant UPMC facilities were now out of network for district employees. Those employees would be left to pay out of pocket for services at UPMC facilities.
“On Aug. 1, employees will receive new cards with the Cigna logo on them and they will have full access back into the UPMC system,” Reilly said.
Reilly said employees who may have received bills for services will only be responsible for the deductible; the rest will be up to the district to settle.
Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said employees will have access to Cigna’s network of providers, which includes UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Geisinger, Conemaugh, Mount Nittany and Penn Highlands.
“We are also working on separate agreements so they can access independent physicians and to maximize their health care options,” he said. “It gives them the ability to have quality health care across the board but also access to all networks, not just UPMC.”
Prijatelj said everyone involved in setting up the district’s health care plan worked continuously for the past three weeks to come up with a solution that would best serve the employees.
“Our employees are our number one asset,” he said. “Having them being concerned about their health care means we have a problem we have to address. We have to take care of our employees.”
Reilly said the benefits for employees will remain the same.
“Nothing was changed in plan benefits when we made this move,” he said. “The commitment from the school district remains the same to all of the employees to get them back into the UPMC network and honor the plan designs that we have in place. This will return that to the status quo using the Cigna network.”
The agreement with Cigna takes effect Aug. 1, and while UPMC officials said they could not yet comment on the district’s new plan, spokeswoman Danielle Sampsell said UPMC will honor its previous commitment to not require district employees to prepay for out-of-network services during the month of July.
Mirror Staff Writer Rick Boston is at 946-7535.