Letter from insurance company causes confusion

A recent letter from American Fidelity, Ector County ISD’s disability and accident insurance carrier has caused some confusion among district employees.

The Odessa American filed an open records request with the district after concern was expressed about the change in policy. The letter from American Fidelity’s Policy Continuation Team was dated June 1 and says the company records show they had not received payment of the premium for the coverage(s) the employee had chosen.

It said they may still be able to keep their coverage.

“Whether you’ve changed employers, recently retired, or requested a cancelation, we encourage you to contact us to determine whether your coverage may be transferrable and discuss your available options.”

The new carriers, Standard and MetLife, came online with the new year, 2023. Chief Communications Officer Mike Adkins said there was no lapse in coverage.

Adkins said with these kinds of optional policies, employees are given information about it when they go through Open Enrollment.

All employees must re-enroll or renew their benefits every year during Open Enrollment.

“Our school district has a medical plan (trust) committee that reviews insurance coverage options for all employees. This committee reviews coverage and benefits every year to get the best coverage for the best prices to benefit the school district and all of its employees,” Adkins said in an email.

ECISD Director of Benefits and Risk Management Yolanda Gordon said the letter from American Fidelity was sent without ECISD’s “knowledge or approval.”

“We understand it was intended to let our employees know their coverage with American Fidelity was ending and they could opt to keep coverage with American Fidelity, if they chose to do so, on their own,” Gordon said in an email. “However, the letter only served to create confusion. We have received a number of phone calls from concerned employees over the past week, and we have been able to reassure them that, if they chose to renew these policies during the open enrollment period, they have continued to have coverage and premiums have continued to be paid on their behalf through ECISD.”

Employees may visit the ECISD Benefits webpage at tinyurl.com/mr2rxrpm

Look for “What’s New?” on the left side of the page; see the 2023 Benefits Guide; disability insurance is outlined on page 18.

The new carriers were chosen through a “rigorous bid process conducted by a third-party provider, ECISD found different insurance carriers for those policies, ones that offered more competitive pricing and/or enhanced benefits and features,” Gordon detailed in the email.

“In regard to the Disability coverage, the monthly premiums for employees are slightly less expensive under the new policy, and the new policy greatly expands availability to individuals with pre-existing conditions,” Gordon wrote.

The change of carriers for those policies was announced to ECISD employees during last year’s open enrollment period in October and November. All employees must renew all of their insurance options every year.

“Our district offers three options for employees to enroll — through in-person meetings, by telephone, or online. In all cases, employees are given the chance to review the insurance options they selected before signing off on them. Changes in optional coverages — like Disability, Cancer, Hospital Indemnity and others — are not announced ahead of the enrollment period,” Gordon wrote.