Health Insurance Can Make You Sick
Alternate Alternate Title: No Fun With Numbers
My district does a benefits fair every year where you can go and talk to the different insurance providers and learn about the various supplementary retirement plans that are offered. The letter that they send every year to remind us always has some great numbers in it.
In Washington the state gives a certain amount of money per teacher to cover insurance costs. Last year it was $629.07; this year it’s bumped up to $682.54, a $53.47 increase. Happy day!
The district gives us the money to spend on whatever offered plan we’d like. I’ve used Group Health since I started teaching; they’re quite a bit cheaper than the other plans but still quite comprehensive. Here’s what Group Health cost per month last year:
Employee and Spouse: $726.96
Employee and Children: $557.46
Employee and Family: $911.53
The pisser is that the fees on my plan are going up 16.5% this year. When you figure that in here’s what those plans will cost this year, with the increase in parentheses:
Employee: $438.81 ($62.15)
Employee and Spouse: $846.91 ($119.95)
Employee and Children: $649.45 ($91.99)
Employee and Family: $1062.38 ($150.85)
The increase in state funding doesn’t cover the increase in plan costs for any of the plans. If you’re on the family plan, like I will be this year, you’re still going to pay nearly $1200 more out of pocket for your health care.
It gets worse, because that’s only the medical insurance. We’ve got a choice between two dental plans, Washington Dental at $111.20 a month, or Willamette Dental at $65.00. Most people choose Washington Dental because there are only two offices in the Spokane area that accept Willamette, and they’re both terribly inconvenient.
So, if you use Group Health to cover your entire family ($1062.38) and get Washington Dental ($111.20), your total cost per month is $1,173.58. Take out the state funding ($682.54) and your total deduction per month from your paycheck is $491.04. Multiply that by 12 and you’ll get the yearly cost, $5892.48.
Now consider that as a part of my yearly salary. This year, with a Master’s Degree and 5 years of experience, I’ll make $38,442 in salary. 15% of that will go towards insurance costs. That’s off the top, before taxes, before retirement—15% on insurance costs alone.
Teaching is about sacrifices, and I accept that. It’s unconscionable, though, for Rick Hess to rail against “gold plated” health care for teachers when I don’t think it’s something that he himself has to worry about. Is Margaret Spellings putting 15% of her salary towards her health care? Rod Paige? Joel Klein? Terry Bergeson?
Anyhow, there’s my reality. What’s yours?
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