Health Insurance Costs Hurt Texas Teachers

Health Insurance costs for Texas teachers are expected to increase again even though the state legislature hasn’t increased its funding to the program in over 15 years. Education jobs are among the lowest-paying occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree, and teacher salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation. The rising cost of healthcare compounds this problem.

TRS Health Insurance CostsTRS Active Care Health Insurance Premiums Texas Teachers

The health insurance premium for a school teacher to get decent coverage that includes spouse and children will cost $2194 per month. The only other two options include very limited HMO plans or a high deductible ($5500) PPO plan. The high deductible plan would still cost $1316 per month plus the additional $500 per month to cover expenses until the deductible is met ($1816/month).

Many districts offer a contribution of $225/month to help offset these costs. Some districts choose to offer a little more.

Thus, annual costs for a school teacher and family to have health insurance would be $26,328 for Active Care 2 ($23,628 after employer contribution). The High deductible plan plus monthly HSA to cover the deductible would cost $21,792 ($19,092 after employer contribution).

Health Insurance vs. Salary

The state minimum salary for new teachers in 2017 – 2018 is $28,080 according to TCTA. That means that new teachers would pay up to 84% of their salary just to cover healthcare expenses, without ever seeing a doctor once. The costs increase if they actually need medical care because each plan includes high out of pocket costs and limitations on the types of medications and treatments allowed. Higher out of pocket deductibles force families at this income level to choose more expensive health insurance plans in order to access routine healthcare.

This would leave teachers who support single income families well below the Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The combination of job pressures, low pay, and lack of affordable health insurance causes many teachers to quit soon after they start, a pattern that has led to a perpetual attrition problem in schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about a fifth of all new public-school teachers leave their positions before the end of their first year, and nearly half never last more than five.

This situation does does not improve much for veteran teachers, who earn a meager $10k more per year after teaching for 10 years based on the state’s minimum salary schedule. The cost for employee and family under Active Care 2 would consume 69% of their salary.

Reflection

From a leadership perspective, recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers is more important than ever as legislators increase unfunded mandates on schools, demanding better student performance. If we truly value the education of our children, then we need to reflect that value and at least offer healthcare that’s affordable.

 

Resources

You can find out more by clicking on the links below, which were used in writing this post.

https://tcta.org/node/13123

https://tcta.org/node/14695-teacher_salaries_need_to_be_higher

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-teachers/7159/

http://www.nea.org/home/1277.htm

https://tcta.org/sites/tcta.org/files/trs2019activecarechanges.pdf

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/18/2018-00814/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines

This post is a bit of a deviation from my typical, technology-related content. However, all the investment we make in purchasing technology for schools is meaningless if we are unable to retain highly qualified teachers who can empower student learning.