Wisconsin Public Radio

Teachers Pay More of Health Care Costs

Report shows impact of Act 10. Critics charge costs are helping cause teacher shortage.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jul 7th, 2018 07:58 pm
School Buses.

School Buses.

A new state report shows the average Wisconsin school employee is covering much more of the cost of their own health care since the passage of Act 10, the legislation that limited collective bargaining for many public sector workers in 2011.

In the 2017-2018 school year, school district employees paid an average of roughly 12 percent of their premiums, according to the data collected by the Department of Administration.

That’s compared to the 5 percent the Wisconsin Association of School Boards found employees paid in the 2010-2011 school year.

Christina Brey, a union spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said the passage of Act 10 is contributing to a teacher shortage.

For years, teachers had been negotiating better health benefits in exchange for lower pay, Brey said, and despite higher costs of care, salaries aren’t catching up post Act 10.

“As teachers’ salary drop and as educators, on top of that, are required to pay more and more for co-pays and deductibles, they’re simply not choosing to go in the profession or stay in the profession,” Brey said.

Maximum out of pocket costs for a single person can run up to $12,000. For a family, that can run up to $24,000.

Brey also argues that while the passage of Act 10 was supposed to help solve the state’s fiscal problems, schools are paying the price.

“Schools are still going to referendum at an extremely large frequency to just make ends meet in their districts,” she said.

Still, John Stellmacher, director of business services for the Hartford J1 School District, said employee turnover has been modest there.

But Stellmacher said his district, which employs about 190 people, does have a more limited applicant pool to choose from than it did five years ago.

Hartford district employees have to pay about 21 percent of their premiums for both single and family health plans, which Stellmacher said makes the district more like the private sector in the area.

The out of pocket maximum for an individual is $4,500. For a family, the maximum is $9,000.

Stellmacher said the passage of Act 10 has made the district increase teachers’ starting salaries to $40,000 dollars from $30,000 to remain competitive.

“We’re trying to innovate and present compensation that’s attractive to bring good people to Hartford while also realizing the financial constraints that we have,” he said.

While Hartford employees don’t have to pay the highest premiums, they are on the higher end of the spectrum.

The highest individual contribution runs at almost 34 percent; the highest family contribution runs at almost 28 percent. The lowest single and family contributions fall under 2 percent.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker took to Twitter to say that Act 10 brought fairness to public employee health insurance.

“While many government employee out-of-pocket costs went from nothing to something, the (average) monthly employee contribution for employer-based health insurance is still greater than for school districts,” he said.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Teachers Are Covering More Of Their Health Care Costs Since Passage Of Act 10 was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

4 thoughts on “Teachers Pay More of Health Care Costs”

  1. LenaTaylorNeedsToResign says:

    Thank you Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature for restoring our fiscal health and some sense of fairness after years of truly insane overspending on government employees. Money flowed in a loop from taxpayer, to unions, to Democrat lawmakers and their campaigns. Rinse & repeat for years, until the courage was found to say “Enough!”

  2. Sean Moore says:

    It seems there was a loop from tax payers (teachers) -> unions -> Democrats -> middle class tax payers. The loop has indeed been broken at various points.

    Now we have: Broke consumers -> Kochs, DeVos and company -> Republicans -> Broke consumers. Good luck breaking this loop.

  3. Troll says:

    I suggest robots. Then the unions can convince them that the tax payer is screwing them over. Also make sure the robots are female. We would n’t want to many Male robots teaching elementary level kids as always gender equality first.

  4. Tom says:

    Act 10 caused teachers’ take home pay fell by 20-25% as a result of the immediate pay cuts, elimination of salary systems, and significantly increased health care costs, leading to the current teacher shortage in Walker’s Wisconsin.

    I am part of a volunteer group that speaks to teaching candidates across Wisconsin, and in the last few years, Minnesota as well to educate them on the disastrous effects to their futures if they accept a teaching position in Wisconsin. We show these future teachers the significantly increased compensation that they will earn the first day they leave Wisconsin for a more education/teacher friendly state such as Minnesota.

    Over the course of a career, teachers who leave Walker’s Wisconsin will earn 2-3X more in career earnings than those teachers who are willing to work in what we call “Shit Hole School Districts” like Hartland Jt 1 where the starting salaries are barely $40,000 with top attainable salaries just over $50,000. Many school districts in Walker’s Wisconsin have starting salaries around $30,000 with a top salary after 30 years of teaching that doesn’t break $40,000. Teaching in Wisconsin is a dead end job in a dead end state. Why wouldn’t these young teachers want to leave Wisconsin?

    In our analysis of districts across Wisconsin, we have found that when recruiting new teachers, many of the Shit Hole districts recruit new teachers by dangling a high top salary that, in reality, no one hired after Act 10 will EVER get to. In our presentation, we show how to figure out which districts are good places to work and which ones are the Shit Hole districts.

    Since Act 10 however, even the BEST school districts in Wisconsin are still WORSE places to teach and live than ANY school district in Minnesota. It has been truly gratifying to read the emails from young teachers who are beginning their careers in school districts across America after leaving Walker’s Wisconsin upon graduation from college.

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