In this post I examine the health insurance plan included in the Teachers contract. I'm putting this out in an effort to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing. They need to know our feelings before any agreements can be made behind closed doors. Based on examining the following information and charts, I am going to contact my school board members and ask that they negotiate the use of one of the “yellow” plans in the next contract. I won't vote "yes" for anything else in March 2020.
These "yellow" plans not only save money for the participant on premiums but they include additional methods of covering out-of-pocket costs. Depending on which "yellow" plan is implemented, the total savings begin at about $113,000/yr and can be up to over $200,000/yr. With that amount of savings, we could afford to set aside some funding to cover higher deductibles for employees while still realizing a significant savings to the taxpayer. The employees themselves would save money on premiums that could also be used to help with out-of-pocket costs. I hope you will get involved and express your own position to School Board and Budget Committee members. This information should help you understand what you're voting on. Currently, 54 out of 55 employees are on the Green (most expensive) plan. At the moment there are 13 employees on the family plan, 8 employees on the 2-person plan and 33 employees on the single individual plan. The taxpayers bear 82.5% of the total costs for teachers. Other employees percentages vary. Below is a chart of the cost sharing.
Here's a table with the numbers crunched down. It shows the total yearly cost of each plan and the possible yearly savings that can be realized by choosing an alternative to the current "green" plan that almost everyone uses. It's important to note that 17.5% of the savings goes directly back to the employees.
|total yearly cost
|taxpayer yearly savings (82.5%)
|employees yearly savings (17.5%)
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could tell them what we are comfortable voting for, in advance? If our School Board members listen and advocate accordingly, they could count on community support. “No” votes, like what happened last March, don’t help the teachers or the kids.
It has always bothered me that taxpayers are never invited to listen in during negotiations of the contracts that folks will be required to pay. It’s a large part of the budget. Due to collective bargaining laws, we can’t even observe the meetings between our School Board reps, who are supposed to be representing the taxpayers, and the Union, which does a fine job representing their members.
Recently, a health insurance committee was formed to investigate insurance alternatives. The problem is, we are NOT being allowed to listen in on the presentations. Some of these presentations have come from competitors to the current "Schoolcare" plan. See my blog post: http://talkingwakefield.com/transparent-you-is-or-you-aint/
To make matters worse, this committee that is supposed to be looking for alternatives is a completely stacked deck.....against the taxpayer! There are three folks who are there to represent the Union. Good for them. On the other side of the table is (1) the Superintendent. How the hell can he advocate cutting benefits that HE RECEIVES! Number 2 is Tracey (it's only a pizza box) Kolb. Say no more, nudge, nudge, wink ,wink. And last is Relf Fogg, the lone wolf who really is advocating for the taxpayer. Often seen as the court jester, but recently doing all he can to give you all the facts. At the moment, the only time we seem to participate is at the polls. It's time to change that by getting involved in the decision making process . It's time to let them know what we will accept.....and what we won't. We already know what happens when we don't get involved.
We’ve all become victims of the charge more and give you less insurance companies. Most of us have had to scale back our coverage to higher deductible plans because of the cost. Not quite so for the affiliated school staff and administrators. They have a really great plan. They don’t want to give it up and I don’t blame them. However, it is time to give up this "cadillac" plan for more than one reason. In the future an "excise tax" (translation= a penalty) may be instituted to discourage folks from continuing with these expensive plans. Most folks don't know that in the last proposed Teachers contract, there was language that specified that the taxpayer would pay half of the excise tax! Read on for "just the facts". Here is a chart showing the monthly and yearly cost of all the available "Schoolcare" plans and the number of employees. Below that is a summary chart showing deductibles and coverage.
The charts below show a more detailed benefit summary of the “Green” plan that 54 out of 55 employees have chosen. The current and proposed Teachers contract states that the district will pay 82.5% of these premiums. This is a zero deductible plan with minimal copay. Here is the benefit summary of the Green plan. CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS for a readable view. Use the back button to return to the post. I wish I could have this plan!
Here is the benefit summary of the “Red” plan. It has a small deductible ($250 individual, $500 family) and a slight copay. We have one employee (individual) on this plan.
Now we come to other plans that are not mentioned in the contracts. These are higher deductible plans with higher copays, resulting in lower monthly rates. No employees are enrolled in these plans. This one is "yellow choice". This has a $1250 single, $2500 family deductible and a higher copay.
This one is the"yellow no choice" plan.
The Orange plan. This has a $2000 individual, $4000 family deductible and higher out of pocket costs.
What coverage do the Town employees get?
Here is the most recent Summary of Town of Wakefield employee Benefits.
The cost of the health insurance for Town employees is $717.15 (one person)/month
1434.30 (two person)/month
The taxpayers pay 88%.
Full benefits document for Town employees:
Anthem Summary of Benefits_2019