Teachers who have health insurance through the school system offered by the state will soon be paying higher premiums and that has many of them concerned because the extra out of pocket expense will affect their take home pay.
The board of education last Thursday night voted to approve a seven percent hike as mandated by the state. But since the school system is not absorbing the increase, the higher costs will be passed on to teachers.
About 40 educators met Tuesday evening at the Smithville First Assembly of God church to share their concerns. The teachers would like the school board to reconsider its decision and come up with the funds to cover the increase. The school system already pays up to 60% toward a certified employee’s single or family plan.
The teachers will ask Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III to convene a workshop and or special meeting of the board soon before the rate hike takes effect.
“We are talking unbelievable increases. My family plan will increase 79%. Not seven percent. That means my net pay is going to be $3,060 less this year. An individual plan will increase 109%. Teachers just can’t take that hit. We need help,” said one teacher who asked not to be identified.
“We are concerned that our school board or county is not putting forth any extra money this year to cover that increase. We feel the school board did not understand when they voted last week how this will affect us and we just want this revisited. We are afraid that many teachers will be leaving this county because they cannot live on what this county is paying us with all the things that come out of our check. That is the basic concern,” said the teacher.
“It needs to be revisited soon because we have to make our decisions by October 30 as to what health plans we get and they will start taking that amount of money out of our checks December 5th. That’s when the big hit comes and we are stuck with that for an entire year. It would be a major financial blow to every educator in this county,” the teacher added.
In response, Board Chairman Evins released the following statement to WJLE in a text message:
“I have been in touch with at least one of the members of the school system who has called me out on Facebook and I have ensured her that we were looking at any options that we could come up with. She has contacted past State Senator Mae Beavers, who explained to her that until Obama Care is repealed that the one issue that makes the Affordable Care Act not so affordable is the fact that the state cannot cross state lines to get competitive quotes for better insurance rates. We were told it (rate hike) would be an average of 7% and that is what we had to work with. As I stated, we have been working on a solution since this matter was revealed but some find fault with the board and we are not the funding body. We are continuing to work for the entire staff to come up with a solution as best we can,” said Board Chairman Evins.