SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Springfield Public Schools voted to cut ties with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

The district is one of the largest employers in central Illinois, with 1,809 employees expected to enroll in benefit plans next year.

School board members said the split between BCBS and Springfield Clinic was the primary reason for the district choosing another provider.

“We need to make sure that we are looking for a company that does have Springfield Clinic as a carrier here in Springfield,” Superintendent Jennifer Gill said after the vote.

The district will instead go with Cigna, a company that does have Springfield Clinic in its network.

Blue Cross Blue Shield kicked Springfield Clinic out of its network in November. Since then, the Target 3 team has uncovered consistent issues with the network’s directory that left central illinois patients with few to no options for crucial care.

A large number of Springfield district employees still wanted to continue seeing their doctors at Springfield Clinic. Since the split happened right in the middle of the district’s contractual year, the district needed to make a decision.

“That mid-year plan change would have been very expensive to the district, about a million dollars or more,” Gill said. “So we did not change mid year, but we did set up a health reimbursement account for our employees to help them ease any of the, you know, money that they would have to spend that was not covered by the insurance plan.

The district’s reimbursement account allowed employees to remain with their Springfield Clinic doctors for the same price. It cost the district a significant amount of money, and the reimbursement plan was not sustainable beyond the last half of this contractual year.

Springfield Public Schools started accepting new bids for insurance plans in February. While the Cigna plan does increase premiums for their employees, district officials say every plan would lead to a rate increase.

Micah Miller, a Springfield School Board member and member of the board’s insurance committee, said some employees still dealt with some problems even with the reimbursement plan from the district.

“There have been some some anecdotes here and there about the extra complexities that this is produced,” Miller said. “But you know, like I said, we’re trying to finish the year as best we could. There was a situation nobody wanted to be dealing with. And I’m really looking forward to this partnership with Cigna.”

The district’s new insurance plan will officially go into effect on June 1st, 2022. The district is entering a three year agreement with Cigna.