Lawmakers consider having teachers pay more for health insurance

February 17, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Some Alabama state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would require teachers to pay more for health insurance. The legislation that would increase premiums for teachers is being introduced this week.

Every job has its perks, and for educators one happens to be the cost of health insurance. "Anytime you work for the state, good health insurance and affordable health insurance is an added benefit," Nikki Dellinger said. Teachers in Alabama, under an individual state health insurance plan, pay as low as a $2.00-per-month premium.

State Representative Jamie Ison is currently proposing legislation that would require teachers to pay more for their health insurance. State Representative Mike Hubbard supports the proposal. "What Representative Ison is proposing, I think is reasonable. It's just proposing a $20-$25 dollar employee contribution," Hubbard said.

Teacher Nikki Dellinger pays $2.00 a month for individual health insurance. She is against the proposal, but says she understands why some people might consider it as being unfair. "It's an amazing blessing that we don't have that burden of expensive health insurance," Dellinger said. "My dad is a minister so we had really high health insurance. So I understand that that's what a lot of Americans have to do," she added.

Representative Hubbard says the legislation could be one way to help address the state's budget crunch. "I think its not unreasonable. To be quite honest, the situation we're in right now, if we increase the employee contribution, we'll save hundreds of jobs from having to be eliminated," Hubbard said.

Beth Pierce has been a high school teacher for more than a decade. She says she doesn't mind an increase in health insurance premiums if it will save jobs. "I think if it were a choice between losing a teacher or raising health insurance premiums, people might go along with raising health insurance premiums," Pierce said.

It's not the first time this type of legislation has been proposed. Representative Ison introduced a similar bill that failed five years ago. However, lawmakers say it could gain more momentum this time due to the state's budget woes.