Unsupportable: Wood Schools’ dental insurance must change

Some people are afraid of the dentist, terrified, even; but the Wood County Board of Education has good reason to take a look at the challenges ahead if the school district’s current dental insurance plan remains the same and declare it “kind of terrifying.”

School board president Rick Olcott was referring specifically to the numbers that show if the enrollment rate for retirees continues, the number of retired employees participating will eventually be higher than the number of people Wood County Schools employs right now.

School employees and retirees here have just about the sweetest deal on dental insurance in the state, certainly it is better than what almost anyone working for a private employer can get.

A few disturbing examples: For $45 a month, a retiree AND his or her entire family can be part of a dental plan that carries a $100 lifetime deductible. Yes, after a mere $100 per person is paid, the employee or any other member of the family covered by the plan owes nothing for the rest of his or her life.

Worse still, there is no enrollment period for the plan.

“So you have people who enroll for a month, get the work they need done, and then drop the insurance,” said Superintendent Will Hosaflook.

Taxpayers foot this bill, of course. Costs will increase, but right now it drains $1.5 million a year to provide this luxury. When the school levy was renewed in November, it included an increased allotment for dental insurance of $1 million, which means the school system has to come up with an additional $500,000.

School board members have what should be an easy decision to make, on this one. Hosaflook plans to present some options to them, none of which maintains the status quo. The status quo is unsupportable.

It boggles the mind to wonder what the school board that put such a system in place was thinking. But school board members now must do their best to come up with a solution that does not, as Olcott mildly put it “place stress” on Wood County Schools’ funding when that money could be better spent on projects that improve students’ educations.