Teacher's health insurance costs to increase

By Melanie Posey

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Since 1983, teachers in Alabama have paid minimal costs when it comes to health insurance.  On Thursday, a vote by those on the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Program, or PEEHIP Board, changed that.  

"We have tried our best to make it as modest as we could and still keep the program sound," Board Chairman Paul Hubbert said shortly after Thursday's vote.   

Starting October first, monthly premiums for individuals will go from two dollars to 15 dollars.  Dependent coverage will increase from 134 to 162 dollars.  Co-payments for doctors and prescriptions will also go up.   

Board members say they had to do something to something because the program was almost in the hole due to budget constraints.  

"We had 8 to 10 days of projected revenues and that's too thin a margin to be comfortable about," Hubbert says.  "I think this now makes our plan more sound in terms of funding"  

The president of the Jefferson County branch of the American Federation of Teachers says she considers the vote somewhat of a victory because the increases are not as high as originally proposed.  Vi Parramore also says she wishes members would have waited to see if a federal jobs bill is going to pass.  That bill, Parramore says, would provide enough money to pay for 3,200 Alabama teachers. "Which means it will free up money in the budget to help offset the loss in the insurance budget and also provide materials to kids in the classroom," Parramore says.

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