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Insurance woes...

Posted by Suzanne D. on 9/10/04 at 18:05 (159677)

The state of Kentucky is now in an uproar about state employees' insurance coverage. In the 24 years I have been teaching, we have gone from having excellent coverage under Blue Cross/Blue Shield to many different companies' options which change from year to year and seem to get more expensive with decreasing coverage each time it changes.

Last year I had almost $500 each month taken out of my check for a family plan to cover my husband, daughter, and me. And that was dropping down to a 'medium' coverage policy. The state has paid for state workers in the past, and we could elect to pay the additional money for spouse or family coverage. Now employees must pay for their own coverage next year, and premiums are skyrocketing. Our valuable classroom assistants at this rate will have to pay more than their monthly wage to be covered by insurance.

At this point, people are fearful of getting sick with any major illness as the expensive coverage still requires patients to pay 20% of all hospital bills. To make matters worse, the company which now will be insuring us (no choice this time) is not accepted in our local, large hospital and only by one doctor in the area. I am talking about 2,000 employees in the school district in which I work. That is multiplied all over the state. And insurance premiums are also going to be based on salary, so people like me who have 20+ years will be paying the largest premiums.

Messages are clogging up the state e-mail system from scores of people who are sending their thoughts to everyone in the global address system. I have received over 100 such e-mails in the past two days. The governor's office must surely be inundated with such mail. There is talk of a teacher's strike which has not happened since I have been teaching.

Is this happening in any of your areas? I know health insurance is a major concern for most people. After seeing the chart on payments, I had the thought that I had better take care of my Birkenstocks as I may not be able to afford many more pairs!

Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

Kathy in Ky on 9/10/04 at 19:39 (159698)

Lots of teachers are talking in support of the strike in Northern Ky. I don't know how bus drivers or teaching assistants will be able to keep their insurance. My husband had been carrying our daughter with Parent Plus but I switched them both to my Ohio school district insurance last month. We had heard rumors of the ins. rate hike & loss of coverage earlier in the summer. He has also been teaching 24 yrs & it seems a shame to punish the experienced teachers by making them pay more. I was really discouraged when I received this year's first paycheck, it was $24.00 less even with my 3% pay raise due to higher ins. costs. Our insurance in Ohio was hit last year with higher deductible rates, our family deductible will be $600 plus co-pays. I don't think that's as bad as other states though. Suzanne I hope your feet don't start flaring up again...Ky teachers can't afford to get sick!

Re: Insurance woes...

Suzanne D. on 9/10/04 at 20:15 (159701)

I'm glad you have the Ohio coverage, Kathy. Of course it sounds expensive, too. I do feel so badly for the assistants and bus drivers. To have to work all month and still owe money would be demoralizing.

Have a good weekend!
Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

Hestia on 9/10/04 at 23:43 (159714)

The state insurance here in La. has had problems also in recent years. It has been about 8 years since I worked for the state so I don't know specifics. I do know that they had a bad reputation for reimbursements for while.

Before we moved, DH worked with a group that had at least 200 employees. At the end of their insurance contract a couple of years ago, they had trouble getting insurance coverage. No insurance companies even wanted to put in bids. It was pretty crazy and went down to the night before coverage was up. It is really sad when you have to beg insurance companies to cover your company. With the new policy family coverage went up almost 45%. I am not sure how much of the increase they covered. With the new job we have no insurance coverage. We have an individual policy, which makes me nervous about future coverage.

Re: Insurance woes...

Kathy G on 9/11/04 at 08:30 (159728)


What's happened to our medical care system in the US is a disgrace and your story just personalizes it. I can't believe they went to an insurance plan that only one doctor accepts!

This is a hot subject and I'm not about to start a controversy on our now peaceful boards, but what teachers get paid and the way we treat them is shameful. In NH, each individual town negotiates teacher contracts with its teachers. Our property taxes pay for our educational expenses, with very little state aid. If you live in a property rich town, you get a better education than if you live in a less fluent area. Some, like me, and I'm in the minority, believe we need to have a broad based tax like a state income tax or a sales tax, dedicating the proceeds entirely to education. It'll never happen in my lifetime. In the meantime, teachers our age are opting for early retirement and we have very few young people going into teaching. In other professions, if there are more jobs than there are applicants, college students see a perfect opportunity to major in a field that will give them a definite job when they graduate. Not so teaching, because traditionally teachers are over-worked and underpaid. One of the benefits of being a teacher, at least in my own town, is that they have excellent health coverage. Take that away, as they have in your case, and even if one loves children and wants to teach, where is the incentive? It's a disgrace.

Okay, now I'll get off my soapbox, and say that I hope it doesn't come to a strike decision because that will be very difficult for you. It happened several years ago in a nearby city and the results weren't pretty.

Wish I had some words of encouragement but I don't have a clue where your situation will end up. All I know is that it's wrong and I'm sorry to hear about it.

Re: Insurance woes...

Suzanne D. on 9/11/04 at 09:43 (159733)

Thanks, Kathy, for your post. I appreciate your words. Yes, I do not look forward to the next few weeks in terms of where this talk of strike will lead. My school system, on our alternative calendar schedule, will be on break the first two weeks of October. My hope is that something might be worked out with talks with the legislature on this health insurance issue. Of course I guess I don't have a lot of hope in that, but at least there will be two weeks that the children won't be in school and that I won't have to be worrying about a strike.

I know many people feel that teachers whine a lot about money, and I've always tried hard not to project that image, but I am concerned for my daughter and her husband - in their second and third years of teaching. And I would like to be able to retire in 5 or 6 years with good insurance coverage. After 30 years teaching, I don't feel like that would be too much to ask.

In the meantime, thank goodness for the children who can always bring a smile to your face! The mother of one of my students told me that he said at the end of the first week of school, 'I think I'm going to marry my teacher.' :)

Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

Suzanne D. on 9/11/04 at 09:47 (159734)

This is a widespread concern across our country, I believe. With advances in medical care, it's a shame that it is now harder for people to afford.

I am hopeful that you do not see big increases in your individual policy.

Best wishes!
Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

marie on 9/11/04 at 17:43 (159750)

Hi Suzanne,

We just had a meeting this past week and have had insurance changes in our school system too. Basically the coverage is similar but now we have a 200.00 deductable, we'll pay about 620.00 annually for a family, perscriptions are now 16.00 per script and they have the right to bump it up once a year. We really lost on this contract. In return the school board granted the association approval for 'fair share' at 580.00 a year. This is just 20.00 short of being a member. There is a low membership at our school district but my guess is that it will go way up now. It seems our negotiating team sold the staff out because of the grudge about membership. Not a very good pr move.

The one thing teachers could count on in the past was a decent benefit package. Now we are loosing ground there too.


Re: Insurance woes...

Susan S on 9/11/04 at 21:02 (159755)

I work for our local county government, and they recently announced that they will start charging smokers $40 a pay period (every 2 weeks) extra for their health insurance. They are also considering an extra premium for overweight people to start in a couple of years.

Re: Insurance woes...where does it end?

Linda V. on 9/11/04 at 21:28 (159760)

wow..is that legal to do that? i think the airlines are still in court for trying to charge obese people for 2 seats... i would think there would have been a fight because of discrimination...not that i think smoking doesn't cause health problems..but once you start, where does it stop? charge more for beach beauties who lay out in the sun and will end up with skin cancer? add a fee for those who work in high risk jobs? penalize those born to families with genetically known possible problems (ex..breast cancer gene)
this whole health industry stuff is frightening.

Re: Insurance woes...where does it end?

Susan S on 9/11/04 at 21:31 (159761)

Yeah really! We found out about the weight premium when someone sarcastically asked if that was next, and HR said yes, in a couple of years.

Re: Insurance woes...

Suzanne D. on 9/11/04 at 21:54 (159769)

I'm sorry your district has lost ground in coverage this year, Marie. This must be a disturbing trend across the country. Did you say $620 annually for a family? Ours will be about that monthly. Or maybe I misunderstood what you wrote. At any rate, we seem to all be losing ground.

Take care, and I hope you are having a good school year so far!
Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

Suzanne D. on 9/11/04 at 21:56 (159770)

Gracious, what will they think of next? I thought charging according to how much we earn was not fair, but charging extra for smokers and for overweight people? The stress of all this is likely to make people sick.

Suzanne :)

Re: Insurance woes...

jan h on 9/20/04 at 19:40 (160219)

I have had a heel spur for 2 yrs-It was suggested I get the orthotripsey procedure-After doing ALOT of paperwork-I was turned down by my insurance. My insurance WILL pick up a cutting peocedure but I have no short or longterm disability-I have sick hrs and some vacation time left-but only about a month's worth in total! I live alone and wonder if I can heal on my own-I am a cashier and it's getting harder and harder to do my job. Any suggestions????

Re: Insurance woes...

Dr. Z on 9/20/04 at 19:49 (160220)


First read the heel pain book. Why did your insurance company turn you down for ESWT?

Re: Insurance woes...

jan h on 9/20/04 at 20:34 (160223)

our insurance company considers it 'experimental'

Re: Insurance woes...

jan h on 9/20/04 at 21:31 (160227)

They consider it'experimental'-I have read alot of this article-very interesting!

Re: Insurance woes...

jan h on 9/21/04 at 00:15 (160232)

Boy-I am a typical victim-45-overweight and a cashier.....Ugh!