DALLAS (CBS11 I-TEAM) – Another increase in health insurance costs could drive some Texas teachers out of the classroom.
For a teacher making $40,000 a year to have average health insurance for themselves and their family, it is now going to cost them half of their paycheck.
Since 2002, health insurance premiums have more than doubled for Texas teachers.
The Teacher Retirement System board voted last week to increase premiums by an average of 5.7 percent starting in September. Some premiums rates will increase by as much as 9.5 percent.
Specialist copays, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket amounts will also increase.
Despite the increase in health care costs, the state’s contribution to teacher’s health care has remained the same since 2002.
Alliance-AFT Dallas President Rena Honea said many veteran public teachers are contemplating leaving the profession because of the health care expenses.
“Many have said they are actually taking home less money because of the increases in health care in TRS so they are actually seeing a demotion as far as the money,” Honea explained. “Many are leaving the profession because they can’t afford to make ends meet.”
Honea said the hardest hit by the insurance changes are the hourly support staff employees, such as cafeteria workers and custodians.
Even the catastrophic insurance plans are often more than they can afford.
Teacher groups are calling on lawmakers to help offset some of these expenses by increasing the state’s contribution to the teacher health insurance program.
The state currently contributes $75 per employee towards monthly health care premiums. School districts are required to put in $150 per employee towards health insurance premiums. Some districts, like Dallas ISD, contribute more.
Nearly 430,000 public school teachers and retirees are covered under the TRS plan.
Last month the I-Team reported on the increase in health care insurance costs for retired Texas teachers. Because of insurance changes, many retired teachers said they can no longer afford their prescriptions.