Texas, Louisiana Teachers Face Higher Insurance Premiums
Dallas school district officials announced on Oct. 29 a new plan to allocate more district funds for employees' health insurance, hoping to counteract premium increases, the Dallas Morning News reports. Under the new plan, the district would contribute $178 to monthly premiums for teachers and other school district employees. The plan also calls for employees with basic family HMO coverage to pay an additional $66 per month, higher-level Bonus HMO family plan members to pay an additional $131 per month and families with point-of-service plans to pay $300 more per month. Under another plan announced recently, school district employees would have paid "even higher rates" -- at least $80 more per month per family for basic coverage and $918 more per month for the most expensive plan. The "mix-up" occurred because the district failed to "shop soon enough for a new insurance policy," district officials said. The existing policy expires Dec. 31. Acknowledging that news of the first plan's premiums "shock[ed]" employees, Superintendent Robert Payton said, "We perhaps, in some cases, didn't do our due diligence. ... A mistake was made. The district, with support of the board, is doing everything it can to correct that." Payton added, "I'm hopeful the teachers will react positively. When we present this plan, hopefully they'll be able to see the cost deferred to the district." Trustees are expected to vote on the proposal Oct. 31 (Dunklin, Dallas Morning News, 10/30). Meanwhile, nearly all teachers in Louisiana's Point Coupee Parish district called in sick over the weekend to protest the "high cost of health insurance," making it "unsafe" to conduct school on Oct. 30 without proper staffing, according to Parish School Board President Elliot Bizette. Earlier this month, Gulf South Health Plan notified school board employees that their monthly premiums might increase as much as $83 per month for some plans. Bizette noted that the school board pays between $5 and $14 of each employee's monthly premiums. "I think there are some things we can do to offset this increase," Bizette said, adding, "But I'll have to get with our business manager and go over the numbers carefully." The school board will discuss the issue at an Oct. 30 meeting, and teachers are expected to return to work Oct. 31 (Britt, Baton Rouge Advocate, 10/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.