MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS SPEND $2 BILLION FOR TEACHERS' HEALTH CARE
February 5, 2010
Some Michigan public school teachers don't contribute a single penny toward the cost of their health care premiums, according to a new database unveiled by the Mackinac Center.
The data for the system was gathered through a survey of Michigan school districts' monthly health insurance costs for the 2008-2009 school year. It contains information for more than 95 percent of the 551 school districts in Michigan.
According to Michael Van Beek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center:
- The database showed Michigan public school teachers pay less than 5 percent of the cost of their health benefits, as opposed to an average of 22 percent of their premium for all other Michigan residents.
- Some 52 percent of Michigan school districts have at least some teachers that do not make any contribution to the cost of their own health insurance premiums.
The database reveals school employee health insurance in Michigan is not a competitive market, Van Beek notes. A full 88 percent of the state's school districts use the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan underwrites more than 90 percent of school employees.
Van Beek believes consumer-focused reforms could save the state and taxpayers money, and he says the information in this database should be a motivator for reducing costs.
"The database will assist school officials as they seek to reduce their costs by allowing them access to the plans and costs of nearby and similar districts," Van Beek said. "Districts that are effectively controlling their costs stand out in the database, and school officials can identify these districts and begin to explore whether these cost-saving strategies would work for them."
The Mackinac Center estimates moving all school employees into a state-run high-deductible Health Savings Account plan would save the state $451 million in the first year and roughly $26 billion over the next decade.
Source: Sarah McIntosh, "Michigan Taxpayers Spend $2 Billion for Teachers' Health Care," Mackinac Center/Heartland Institute, February 4, 2010.
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