Insurance changes could drive away quality teachers

wn school board discussed approving insurance plans which will drastically affect the majority of employees in the district. The plans will affect teachers, staff, retirees and para educators. The majority of employees will see deductibles double, if not go up by thousands of dollars. Co-pays, medicine costs and co-insurance also go up for these plans. The only plan that does not make significant changes is carried by 85 employees.

These insurance changes are being considered because the employee’s health care costs are more than the district has allocated to spend. The current plans are draining the district’s insurance account. There is no denying that teachers’ health care plans in Marshalltown are unmatched by any other district. Many employees spoke at the school board meeting on how this saved families from hardships. We are thankful for the district’s contributions over the decades. The school board decided on Monday to wait to pass the new insurance plans. They are seeking more information from their insurance advisers as to premium amounts, comparisons to other districts and different transitioning ideas. I am thankful that the district did not blindly accept the insurance plans without knowing more information.

Changes in premiums would add another possible cost for employees. The superintendent noted that the employees get a step increase each year. This step increase may be enough to cover the deductible changes, depending on education level of the teacher. There is still uncertainty as to whether teachers will be able to financially handle the drastic changes to their insurance plans and still obtain the health care they need. This will depend on the premium information.

These changes also do not mention the administration health care plans. The superintendent noted administrators pay for their health care just as every other employee, which is true. However, in the same meeting, the board initially reviewed the board policy titled “Fringe Benefits-Administrators and Supervisors Code 312.3E1.” This reads: “Full single premiums paid by district for vision, dental, prescription drug or medical insurance.” Currently, there are about 15-20 administrators in the district receiving “full single premiums paid by the district.” On Monday, the board considered changes to this policy to read “The premium amount paid by the district will be determined annually.” This may indicate the district will subsidize the cost of the plan for administrators. This is currently only offered to some employees not considered administrators.

Our teachers have been on the front line of every issue our children have had to face this year, issues that other districts have not been exposed to in the same way. We love these kids, or we wouldn’t be teachers. But to add undue stress to teachers with very little regard to personal, financial and medical security will only push quality teachers away instead of bringing teachers in. Our children will lose the quality teachers they deserve and need. The school board should examine how they transition teachers to the new plans, easing the transition for families, and granting equity among teachers and administrators.