Teachers in the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) are among educators throughout the state who have faced issues with having their health care claims processed this year.

Michelle Baker, director of operations and finance for the HUUSD, confirmed this week that district employees have had problems getting claims processed, accounts set up and reimbursements from their health insurance.

At issue, locally and statewide, is the pullout of Future Planning Associates, the Williston company hired by 80 percent of the state’s school districts to process teachers’ new health reimbursement accounts (HRA). Districts throughout the state received word earlier this month that Future Planning Associates would pull out of its contracts as of May 31.

On January 1, Future Planning Associates began administering the HRAs of teachers in 80 percent of the state after every school district in Vermont began offering HRAs and health savings accounts (HSAs). HRAs and HSAs help cover out-of-pocket health care expenses.

In response to the letter canceling the contract, the Vermont NEA (the union of Vermont educators) laid the blame on the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI), which manages educators’ health care in the state, for forcing all contracts to start January 1 rather than phasing them in.

Baker said that the HUUSD has the choice of selecting Future Planning Associates or Health Equity to handle the accounts for educators and said that Future Planning Associates was selected because of previous work with the firm.

“Our employees have been having difficulties with getting their claims processed and Blue Cross Blue Shield had its own issues which further delayed Future Planning. We’re working with our employees on trying to get things resolved. All plans have a calendar year deductible and VEHI has advised us to go with Data Path for the balance of this year,” Baker said.

She is working on getting HUUSD employees organized with the new third-party health care vendor and plans to have a committee assess options for 2019.