The taxing bodies in Oak Park and River Forest, including District 97 and District 200, are close to an agreement to share reduced health insurance savings when each body renews its plans next January.

The initiative, announced last week by Oak Park and River Forest High School and the Village of Oak Park, is an effort to reduce the tax burden on residents.

Cheryl Witham, chief financial officer for OPRF, said the alliance would negotiate for reduced health insurance premiums. The co-op group would seek lower administrative and claim processing fees with Blue Cross Blue Shield, which already insures many of the participating taxing bodies.

The alliance includes the Village of Oak Park, districts 200, 97 and 90, the Park District of Oak Park and the Oak Park Public Library. Officials from each taxing body have met this year on the partnership. Each governing group will retain its own health insurance benefits.

“If we have a bigger pool, then we can begin to have better negotiating power in fees, and move forward with all of us being self-insured,” said Witham.

By next January, OPRF will become self-insured with Blue Cross and will move its enrollment period to coincide with the other taxing bodies’ enrollment period.

Witham said the high school has talked about doing this for several years. Talks began again this school year, a time when the governing officials were open to the idea, Witham said.

-Terry Dean

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