Eagle County Schools teachers to pay more for insurance | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Schools teachers to pay more for insurance

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Teachers in the Eagle County School District will have to pay a bit more for health insurance next school year.

The amount teachers will pay out of their pockets each month toward their health insurance premiums will increase by 2 to 6 percent in 2010-11.

Teachers with a single employee health plan will see the smallest dent in their paychecks. They will pay $106 per month for their health insurance premium, an increase of $2 per month, or about 2 percent. Of the 703 district employees who have health insurance coverage, most of them – 549 – have a single employee plan. The rest have family plans.

Teachers who will see the biggest increase in health insurance premium costs are employees whose spouses are also covered. Their monthly health insurance premium will be $596, an increase of $32 per month or about 6 percent.

Health insurance premiums were a source of debate this year between the local teachers union and district staff.

Faced with a spike in health insurance costs for next year, district staff asked for teachers to shoulder some of the burden. The district, which is self-insured, expects health insurance costs to jump by $550,000 between this school year and next school year, with the total cost reaching $7.5 million in 2010-11.

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“Cost of medical has a very sharp upward trend,” Onofrio said. “On a national average, it goes up 12 percent a year. That’s the basic cost of medical inflation.”

With a $550,000 jump in health insurance costs, the district had originally proposed employees pay about 26 percent of that amount, or $141,000, teachers’ union president Tanya Caruso said. The teachers’ union balked at that figure. Eventually the teachers’ union compromised on half that amount: $70,500. The district will cover the remaining $480,000. Onofrio said the money will come from the district’s general fund. For each employee, the district’s share of monthly premiums will increase by 9 to 10 percent, depending on the type of plan the employee has.

Caruso said the teachers union didn’t want to see any increase in premium costs for employees, as teachers brace for a wage freeze next school year. However, the union compromised when it became clear that holding off on increasing premiums this year could only delay the inevitable and wind up bombarding teachers with an even steeper hike next year, Caruso said.

“We didn’t want anything but then it seemed logical to have some kind of increase,” she said.

Although teachers will see their paychecks shrink a bit, the district is still paying a majority of the overall premium costs. With the new agreement, the district will be paying 77 percent of the cost, up from 74 percent this year. Employees are shouldering 23 percent of the total cost, down from 26 percent this year.

The school board approved the agreement earlier this month when members approved the district’s budget.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.