How many of you have your employers pick up the full cost of health benefits for not only you, but your family as well?

I would suspect not many of you unless you are a full-time employee with one of 13 school districts in Iowa who still do this.  Staci Hupp at The Des Moines Register writes about how rare this is and how much it is costing taxpayers:

Most school districts in Iowa have stopped paying total costs for family health insurance, a benefit that researchers say is rare in schools nationwide and unheard of in the private sector.

Some Des Moines taxpayers say the benefit is a luxury the district can’t afford, while union leaders call it a trade-off for lower salaries. The average teacher salary in Des Moines is $53,957. Iowa’s average teacher salary is $49,739.

The cost of health insurance premiums in the district topped $43 million last year, a 34 percent increase since 2004. The amount is equivalent to salaries for about 800 teachers.

Family premiums cost an average of $16,000 for each full-time employee last year, records show. The state average was $12,766, according to one study.

Even the feds are starting to have their workers pay something for their family premiums, and some state workers as well.  Polk County employees still don’t have to pay anything yet.

This isn’t the real world folks.  Des Moines still pays its teachers an average of $53,957… remember teachers (unless they work for a year-round school) work an average of 9 1/2 months and then they get the total cost of family health benefits paid.

The Des Moines School Board wants to raise property taxes, and yet they have this benefit.  Imagine if each full-time employee in the district (4,595 of them) contributed say $100/month average – some would pay more some less depending on how many dependents are insured… that would save taxpayers $5,514,000.  A drop in the bucket, but a start and yet they are unwilling to do even that and only having to pay $100/month is more than reasonable for those of us whose employers don’t pay anything.

Hupp quotes Melissa Spencer, a former teacher at North High School in Des Moines who heads the Des Moines Education Association:

Des Moines teachers received an average 1.98 percent increase in total compensation last spring, after Des Moines school leaders predicted they would need to cut 173 teaching jobs to plug a budget shortfall. The increases ranged from 3.6 percent to 5 percent in the four previous years.

"There’s this perception out there that public workers and Des Moines public school teachers have this awesome deal," Spencer said. "Even in good economic times, we won’t see our salaries increase at the rate of, for example, the private sector, because we do want to maintain our health insurance. It’s a give-and-take process."

Teachers (in most districts) get a guaranteed raise every year of experience (as well as, a raise in pay for additional education) and then every year they negotiate a cost of living raise. I believe that is what Spencer is talking about.  Who in the private sector gets that kind of deal?

It’s time for public school teachers and employees to have to put some skin in the game for health insurance.  They also have complained about increasing deductibles, the private sector has to deal with that and still foot the bill for their family insurance if they get family medical insurance at all.

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