Commentary: Real Concerns About Teacher Benefits Driving Push for Pay Increase

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While I still believe that the school district – which has passed five parcel taxes since 2007 – is in better fiscal condition than the city overall, and that it is the city’s turn to attempt to turn to the voters to help stabilize the city’s fiscal situation, after having discussions with a number of district teachers this past weekend, I think there are some legitimate concerns here, especially with the discrepancy in the coverage between city employees and teachers.

As one teacher told me, “This isn’t a leadership based move this time around.”  Instead, it is “truly a grassroots upwelling of teachers who are at a breaking point.”  In part, they explained that the district passed on to teachers a $200 per month increase in benefit costs, which amounts to a pay cut.  As a number of people have explained, teachers are paying up to $1500 out of pocket for benefits and there are many, especially the younger teachers, who cannot afford to stay.

One teacher at Davis High, who gave permission to be quoted but not identified, told the Vanguard, “I take the family benefit package of $11900 per year which covers 100% of my vision plan and dental plan. The district contributes $951.91 per month towards my medical. My contribution is $1617.72 for Blue Shield.”

“I do not choose the cheapest option of Kaiser because I prefer the care offered by the UC Medical group,” the teacher said. “I do not know the exact difference between the two plans, but I believe it to be around $200 per month. I do know that a friend of mine who teaches in the Elk Grove school district pays $50 per month for the exact same benefit package. “

Now the district does not necessarily buy into this.  For one thing, Elk Grove teachers have about the highest compensation coverage in the state and region.  They covered this through continued enrollment growth.

The district believes that they provide better coverage than most districts our size.  And the district believes they cannot ever cover full health.

A $200 per month increase in costs for teachers, on top of having to pay $100 to $150, is putting a huge strain on the teacher’s ability to live on their current income.  Many teachers will receive a net decrease in pay this year.

A full time city employee receives $1657.86 for medical, $220.64 for Dental, $5.90 for life and $35 for LTD (Long Term Disability) for a total of $1920.40.

The stunning thing is a half-time, 50% employee receives $956.75 from the city, slightly more than what the school district contributes to medical coverage for teachers.

We do remain concerned that the city is now facing a more severe economic crisis than the school district.  For six years, the school district could have no better partner than the city of Davis.  The city of Davis never put a competing parcel tax measure on the ballot.  The city of Davis in 2012 asked for only a $49 parks tax when they probably needed three times that.  Every single councilmember in the city of Davis backed every single parcel tax measure on the ballot.

The city of Davis now faces its own emergency.  It needs to pass a sales tax measure this June and it really needs to pass a second tax measure in the fall to fund parks and roads.  It seems unlikely at this point in time that the city would be able to get voter approval for two tax measures this year, given the amount of money homeowners are already paying for the district’s parcel tax and the water rate increase.

The school district should be mindful as well that the people most likely to benefit in this community from a city parcel tax are kids and families.  We have a decaying street system that makes it a hazard for kids who are walking and biking to safely get to school.

Parks are badly in need of an infrastructure upgrade and the prime benefactors of those will be children.

These remain tough times and the district is going to have to prioritize its spending.  Bruce Colby at the Thursday meeting noted that, while this was the first budget increase in several years, the $4.3 million is not nearly enough to cover all of the needs that have accumulated over the years.

He argued that, while the additional money is nice, it does not begin to cover the $15 million which the district has lost over the last five years.

Our inclination this weekend was to ask the district to return some of the parcel tax money so that voters might be more willing to support a city parcel tax.  However, the reality of the teacher’s situation was not as clear then as it is now.  Based on this information, the school district is going to need to use its $4.3 million boost both to alleviate class size problems and hopefully cover more of the teacher’s medical coverage.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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177 thoughts on “Commentary: Real Concerns About Teacher Benefits Driving Push for Pay Increase”

  1. growth issue

    “The district contributes $951.91 per month towards my medical. My contribution is $1617.72 for Blue Shield.”

    Their contribution is $1617.72 a month or for the year? A very misleading article.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The $1600 figure is yearly, but the $200 addition is monthly. I struggled trying to reconcile those numbers, but I believe them accurate there.

          1. hpierce

            Wow… talk about conflation! Most retirees under 65 pay 1/2 of the medical costs until they are qualified for Medicare. Once the retiree is enrolled in Medicare, the City only pays for the supplement to Medicare, hence the City’s payments drop considerably.

          2. iPad Guy

            David, how about enlightening folks instead of making these retorts? I’ll bet you know the city is paying. So, if you want us to consider this comparison, you could list it. I notice you’ve been engaging more in this kind of terse challenge lately, and worry that you’re getting grouchy.

          3. David Greenwald Post author

            I’m not getting grouchy, sometimes, I’m trying to do a few things at the same time and my response might be more short and thus appear more direct than was intended. What exactly is it that you want to know? I laid out how much the city is paying for health care, $1940 per month. What other figure are you looking for?

  2. hpierce

    Could easily support a disrict contribution equal to Kaiser for employee. Could support full coverage for dependents IF dependents had no coverage available on their own.
    Would not support any cashout of medical benefit.
    District and employee should share future increases, similar to City model.
    Oppose salary increases until a healthy reserve is fully funded, AND deferred maintenance is fully covered.
    Just my strongly held opinion.

    1. growth issue

      I agree with you hpierce. Where I worked there was always one health care plan like Kaiser that the company paid 100% of the coverage, but if you wanted to upgrade and not have an HMO you had to pay the extra costs.
      Without knowing the health care options offered to DJUSD teachers it’s hard to make any conclusions. On top of that group plans are less expensive than individual plans.

      Either way I can’t see how anyone is paying $1400/mo.

      1. A Classroom Teacher

        I’m a teacher in the district and we do pay this much. Also it is not a “Cadillac plan”. I found the memo from the district on last years (calendar year 2013) and this is what it says….

        Monthly premium for blue shield basic….$784.63- employee only, 1569.26 – employee plus one, 2040.04 employee & 2 dependents.

        Kaiser….668.63-employ only, 1337.26 – employee plus one, 1738.44 employee &2 dependents

        PERS choice 667.03 -employee only, 1334.06 employee plus one, 1734.28 employee &2 dependents.

        Delta dental…. 55.55 employee only, 113.96 employee plus one, 164.28 employee & 2 dependents

        Vision service plan.. 9.72 employee only, 20.45 employee plus one, 29.91 employee & 2 dependents. (District mandates coverage for employee only for dental and vision.)

        Certificated (teachers) employees: based on full time employment. We require employee coverage for dental, vision and employee assistance program. Employee taking group health insurance receive $491.67 for employee only, $816.67 for employee plus one, $991.67 for employ plus two.

        This year (2014) all health plans went up a minimum of little over $200 for each plan ….some went up more, but the district passed that on to us teachers….they couldn’t help. So yes I can see a family paying over $1400 a month for insurance. I wish I had saved that memo, but alas I didn’t.

        This increase cost is hurting a lot of the younger teachers with families. For years I put my children on an individual plan since it was cheaper than what the district offers. But now that they are older, they get it through their colleges.

        1. growth issue

          “Also it is not a “Cadillac plan”.”

          Well, according to the ACA, which I’m sure most teachers embrace:

          “Excise Tax on High-Cost Coverage (Cadillac Tax)

          Beginning in 2018, a 40 percent excise tax will be imposed on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding a certain threshold. The thresholds are $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage (indexed to inflation). The thresholds increase for individuals in high-risk professions and for employers that have a disproportionately older population.”

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            It looks like the city is paying $23,000 per year. If the $951 figure is correct, the district is paying $11,412 a year for their portion.

          2. hpierce

            Lets be clear, the number you cite for the city is employee & 2+ dependents. If the employee has no dependents, it’s not that high. I’d support DJUSD coverage equal to City formula, except I do not support ‘cafeteria cashout’ for either public employer, and that would include not paying for any dependents who could be covered under another employer’s plan IF that resulted in a cashout for that dependent.
            I believe in full coverage for an employee and dependents, at the Kaiser rate.

          3. Greg Brucker

            This isn’t about whether it is or isn’t a “cadillac” plan. But nice try at setting up another straw man argument.

          4. growth issue

            Oh you and your straws. It’s about employees thinking they’re entitled to cadillac plans that most of the taxpayers don’t have themselves.

          5. Greg Brucker

            You sound like a very jealous and angry individual, GI.

            What are your thoughts on universal healthcare?

            Do you like/use medicare?

          6. growth issue

            No, not at all and I resent your accusations. I’m against ACA as I know what it’s going to do to jobs and the economy. Read the latest CBO report if you don’t believe me. Not on medicare either, I have a health plan from my former job that I carried over and now have to pay a portion of the premiums. I’ve seen my copay and my max payouts go up this year which in part was do to Obamacare (not me saying that but my employer). I’m a Davis homeowner who’s being asked to pay more in school parcel taxes because the school district declared an emergency. Now that the district is seeing some of their funds returning they should look to alleviate the parcel tax burden on homeowners before they start the giveouts. That’s my opinion and I’m allowed that, right Greg Brucker? I’d appreciate it if you would stop the personal innuendos and stick to the subject and facts.

          7. Greg Brucker

            You’re welcome to whatever opinion you want, GI. I was making an observation based on how you consistently post. If I am wrong, great. I would hate to think that emotions are what drive your posting.

            And for the record, you were the first one here to move away from the facts and subject and start rallying against obamacare, “cadillac” plans, and public employees in general. If you are going to make a comment like the below:

            ” I’d appreciate it if you would stop the personal innuendos and stick to the subject and facts.”

            ..I would ask you first to uphold that which you accuse of others, because your attacks on public workers, including calling us entitled (and everything else you have over the years) reeks of personal attack against large groups of people you seem to dislike.

            It falls on deaf ears to pull the victim card when you are as guilty of that which you accuse others of doing.

          8. hpierce

            Heed your own advice would be my suggestion. I actually agree with the thought, but not the manner in which you model it.

  3. wdf1

    hpierce: until a healthy reserve is fully funded, AND deferred maintenance is fully covered.

    Those were two budget items that were discussed as a priority in the district budget in last Thursday’s meeting.

      1. wdf1

        At this stage, the district staff lays out what they see as needs to be addressed, and begins to get feedback from school board trustees. In the next few board meetings, the board and staff will put together a budget. It will probably use the current year’s budget as a starting point and modify from there. The budgeting process will probably be more relaxed this time around than it was in the midst of budget cutting because no budget-related layoffs are expected.

  4. Ryan Kelly

    The cost is about right. UCD has a UC Medical Center plan (UC Blue & Gold) for around $2300 per month for an employee plus children (health, vision and dental). The premium is in tiers starting at $52 for its lowest paid employees and raising to a few hundred for high paid employees.

    Instead of raises, the Teachers Union should have been negotiating health insurance. However, older teachers without families would not particularly find this as a priority. For some lower paid teachers, they may do better to insure their families through Obamacare and only pay for themselves on the District’s insurance. Or find a job in a better situated district.

    There are solutions. Close another school and increase class sizes.

    1. Greg Brucker

      “Instead of raises, the Teachers Union should have been negotiating health insurance. However, older teachers without families would not particularly find this as a priority. For some lower paid teachers, they may do better to insure their families through Obamacare and only pay for themselves on the District’s insurance. Or find a job in a better situated district. ”

      Ryan:

      First, if we negotiate for only health insurance costs, that doesn’t equitably serve all teaches as some, like myself, get insurance elsewhere because we cannot afford the district offerings. If we see a higher pay, that affects everyone equally, which is one of the jobs of the union: to support our teachers equally and equitably.

      Further, and unfortunately, because we have solid plans offered (the issue being the district contribution vs. out of pocket costs), no teacher in our district would qualify for obamacare subsidies, so your idea would only create the same or close to the same impact on income.

      Last, we DON’T want to lose any more teachers in this district. To say to a teacher to just go somewhere else is insulting at a minimum. We want to keep teachers here. Further, if teachers are leaving because they can’t afford to teach here, how are we going to attract anyone of educational worth into the same situation?

      “There are solutions. Close another school and increase class sizes.”

      I’m assuming this is you being sarcastic, because no one in their right mind would suggest this knowing that our class sizes are the largest we’ve seen in decades.

      1. hpierce

        Equality… right… equality would be needed basic coverage for every employee, regardless of situation. Your argument seems to be the same that the City bought into, where the public entity should pay the same total compensation to each employee, independent of what the employee’s needs are. Never bought into that. The benefit is health insurance coverage, not the cost thereof. Just my opinion, and I may have misunderstood you point. Yeah, know you will say I’m presenting a “straw man”… point taken.

          1. hpierce

            Ok… second swing at bat… appears that unless you benefit equally, or better, than your peers, you believe it is not fair.

  5. Davis Progressive

    the costs for health care are clearly absurd. i understand from one of the cta brass is that some of that is determined by a statewide cta contract. the city is clearly paying too much as well. people like growth issue want to be against aca, but then seem to fail to understand how the lack of universal cripples local government.

      1. Greg Brucker

        I have, and it was pretty clearly stated that it is going to create a situation where people can keep more of their money, allowing them to be able to work less to get by, meaning spending more time with family, friends, and the like. It is called having more freedom from having to depend on working so hard to just get by.

        Are you against that GI?

        1. growth issue

          “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the CBO report vindicates Obamacare because “this was one of the goals. To give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked but to follow their passion.” Pelosi is particularly invested in this view. She’s been mocked for years now for her repeated claims that Obamacare is an entrepreneurial bill because it would let Americans quit their jobs to, among other things, “write poetry.”

          Unfortunately it’s the “job-locked” suckers who end up paying so others can persue their passion, poetry, artistry, music, etc………………

          1. Don Shor

            Third notice: this is not going to be a debate about the Affordable Care Act. Any further comments will be edited or pulled. Thanks for your cooperation.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I don’t think that’s correct. Health insurance costs have long increased at a rate that far surpassed inflation. But I agree with Don, this is not the place to have that debate.

          2. Frankly

            Oh come on David. Obamacare is causing a significant increase in premiums of all high-end plans. It is going to impact all of those union employee Cadillac plans that he has not exempted. And you know that he exempted so many of them because of this very problem.

            My broker told me that Blue Shield will likely not offer HSA plans next year because of Obamacare, and that I can expect at least a 20% increase in premiums for similar coverage. That cost will be passed to my employees… most that are also Democrats and voted for Obama.

            I have absolutely no sympathy for them in this situation.

            Pay attention for who and what you vote for.

            The teachers are going to have the same hit. The premiums for the types of high-end plans they are used to are going to increase significantly because of Obamacare.

          3. Don Shor

            I would be perfectly happy to have and participate in a debate about the Affordable Care Act. I suspect that a conversation on that here would go on for many pages. So it would derail the discussion about teacher benefits if it happens here. I suggest you write a column, ask David to post it under your pseudonym if necessary, and we can have that debate.
            But not here.

      2. Mr. Toad

        Yeah its going to free people up to buy insurance on an exchange and give them the freedom to not work anymore for a big company if they have had to keep their job just to have health benefits because someone in the family has a pre-existing condition. Apparently there are several million people in this situation.

  6. SouthofDavis

    A Classroom Teacher wrote:

    > This increase cost is hurting a lot of the younger teachers with families.

    This increase in cost is hurting EVERYBODY… I’m paying more than most teachers out of pocket PLUS every penny up to my $6,000 deductible.

    Until we work on the real problem and work to make health care cheaper we are ALL screwed…

    We recently spent over $300 (out of pocket since we have a $6,000 deductible) to have our doctor (at an actual appointment not at the ER) take a look at a bruise on our kids arm and say he is fine (I knew this but my wife wanted to take him in).

    I know our doctor (who is great) is not making $1,000/hour, so it seems like there should be some way to make costs a lot lower. A friend got hit from behind in his car last year and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for 6 hours of tests before they sent him home. He came to work the next day (a little sore) and a few weeks later he brought the bill in to show us that he ran up over $25,000 in “costs” for his ~2 mile ride to the hospital and all his tests…

    1. Ryan Kelly

      The Davis School District is not going to solve the problem with the exorbitant cost of health care and health care insurance. If teachers are not going to focus on reigning in their healthcare costs over pay raises, they cannot use health care costs as the reason we need to pay them more. There are cheaper plans – Kaiser, Western Health Advantage. If a teacher chooses a plan that has a high deductible, then they should not be taking their children into the doctor to look at bruises and complain that this was expensive. The guy who got hit from behind should have access to auto insurance that should pay his medical costs. If a teacher is covering the entire family on their District insurance, this probably means that their partner is not having to pay for insurance at all out of their paycheck.

      The District is paying around $900 for each employee. I agree this is low. They should try to raise it to equal to the cheapest insurance available.

      The District needs to look at teacher pay and benefits as a whole and come up with a plan to bring down health insurance costs and increase take home pay for its employees. If it has to have fewer choices to do this, then it should do that. UCD has slowly limited the choices for its employees (removing Sutter Medical Center as an option).

  7. Frankly

    David – We need to clear up the confusion about the premium costs.

    See the post from A classroom teacher How much of those premium are employer-paid, and how much are employee-paid?

    I have Blue Shield for my company. It is a high-deductible HSA plan ($2500 individual, $5000 family). The highest family-coverage premium I pay is $1426 / month. The average for all my employees is $967 per month.

    Now the costs for this plan are likely to skyrocket next year thanks to Obamadontcare (aka ACA).

    And as an aside, I am ABSOLUTELY NOT going to have any sympathy for teachers paying higher premiums as a result of Obamadontcare, since I am sure that 90% of them are Democrats and voted for our current president.

    But, getting back to the current situation.

    If I pay $1426 per month and put $417 per month into the employee’s HSA account (and trust me, this is a super-Cadillac plan), then I am still below the premiums for what these teachers are claiming to pay.

    And I only have 22 employees… so I don’t get the benefit of the larger risk pool.

    It is clear that the district is paying too much for healthcare coverage. If this isn’t a premium Cadillac plan, the District is paying WAY too much for healthcare.

    And lastly, the increase in the cost of healthcare is something that needs to be factored in consideration of teacher pay. The data point needs to be the total compensation, not just their salary. And since benefit costs have continued to increase, teachers have been getting raises that the union is failing to acknowledge.

    1. A Classroom Teacher

      Frankly-I’ve been asking the question…why do we pay so much for such awful insurance for years….we do have a high deductible…last year I had a medical issues and paid over $1200 out of pocket…and my coverage didn’t even kick in. I wish I could go to Covered California…I could get a Cadillac plan and would be happy to pay for it.

      But I’m not understanding your last statement regarding raises and benefit increases.? Could you please explain?

      1. Frankly

        Even though teachers salaries have not risen enough to satisfy many people, when we factor the increases in benefit costs born by the district budgets, the total compensation paid has gone up significantly even as teachers are asked to contribute more.

        It is absurd that you are paying so much for premiums and still having to pay so much out of pocket.

    2. Dave Hart

      Why don’t you put $1,600 toward better coverage with less deductible and zero into the HSA? That way you save $200/month and the employee has lower deductible.

  8. darelldd

    David – thank you for the article. I apologize that my post here is going to sound like a nag…
    This is tough for me to figure out what is going on. Accounting like this has to keep the same denominator! Please either speak in monthly or yearly costs without mixing and matching. As well, the three quantities in question need to be clearly separated: Total cost of coverage, employee contribution, district contribution. I’ve read through three times now, and I’m still not confident that I know all the figures, so I’m hesitant to weigh in on it.
    But fortunately, “hesitant” doesn’t mean “won’t” 🙂 I’m surrounded (smothered?) by teachers in my social circles. Not just the teachers that my Jr. High daughter sees every day, but my parents and their parents, my sibling, my close friends. They’re everywhere in my life, so I’m quite intimate with the benefits and struggles of being an educator. I am also intimate with the benefits and struggles of working outside of that system, and more specifically with how much healthcare costs to the rest of us. Bottom line is that my healthcare costs have gone up exponentially more than what we seem to be talking about for our teachers. For the past ten years my family has consistently (and additively) gotten less coverage while our contribution has gone steadly up. And they way these plans are configured – as if written by the same people who create our tax code – it is always an unpleasant surprise to find what I’m charged for service during that first visit of each new year. If our teachers are only now starting to feel that pinch, it would appear that they’re pretty fortunate in the grand scheme of things.

    I wish it were not so. But for those of us stuck here solidly in the middle class, we’re all being asked to do more with less.

    1. Mr. Toad

      Teachers have been feeling that pinch for years. When I started teaching and was single i paid nothing in medical premiums each month when I finished I was paying a thousand a month in premiums to cover the family. Obviously it has gotten worse since I retired.

        1. Dave Hart

          The reason we are “feeling the pinch” is because employee compensation for all but the top 10% in both private and public sector are shrinking at the same time corporations and the very wealthy lower their rate of taxation. The rest of us have to pick up the slack with lower incomes in aggregate. Tax rates have increased for us, but not the ones who can afford to pay.

          1. growth issue

            Dave, I just finished my 2013 taxes, and surprise, surprise. I had almost $8000 in medical deductions that normally, before ACA, I could claim anything above 7.5% of my income. Well guess what, Obamacare has upped that to 10% of my income costing me $750 extra on my taxes. So ACA has cost me $750 more this year and that doesn’t count all the other hidden taxes that we’re just learning about plus my insurance went up 10% this year with higher deductibles, higher copays and higher max out of pocket.

          2. hpierce

            Your math doesn’t appear to work unless you are at a near 100% incremental tax rate and/or have HUGE medical expenses.

          3. Dave Hart

            GI: my point, exactly. The very wealthy are paying less each year and we are paying more. And, anyway, I’ve never been able to deduct a penny on my taxes for medical. Are you saying I’ve been subsidizing you all along?

  9. Mr. Toad

    “For one thing, Elk Grove teachers have about the highest compensation coverage in the state and region. They covered this through continued enrollment growth.”

    Well what a surprise. Now I’m not suggesting we do what Elk Grove has done but i think it is noteworthy that what we are doing makes it harder for teachers in Davis to make ends meet. As such I feel that the community should pay for the lifestyle it has chosen instead of heaping to pain of austerity onto the people who toil away in classrooms working with our precious children.

    Teachers haven’t had a raise in years. Medical costs have outstripped inflation rates of the CPI. They could use some help. The question of efficiency is a good one. One option to consider is a system where everyone gets the same amount from the district no matter how many dependents but everyone pays a flat rate for whatever insurance company they use getting rid of this tiered system for both parties. The clerical staff in Woodland does this and people with families paid less than teachers with families.

    1. hpierce

      “pain of austerity”? people who “toil away”? “precious children”? Cry me a river. Your use of emotive phrases instead of facts remind me a heck of a lot of Frankly. You gotta be a liberal arts major.

  10. SouthofDavis

    A Classroom Teacher wrote:

    > Frankly-I’ve been asking the question…why do we pay so
    > much for such awful insurance for years….

    I’ve noticed over the years that the price of items seem to increase when the people buying them are making the purchase with “other people’s money”. If you are in the defense department and need some hammers you will probably buy the $500 ones from the firm that gives your bosses money (it will not be smart to even mention buying them from someone for less). I’m betting that we have the same issue in the school district where there is some reason the teachers (in the words of “A Classroom Teacher”) “pay so
    much for such awful insurance”…

  11. David Greenwald Post author

    ***CLARIFICATION***

    there are three tiers of plans
    the $1600 is the gross premium for Blueshield for a family
    the district covers $951 of that
    the rest is covered by the employee, it is pretax money

    SO it’s not a $30,000 plan, it’s about a $19,200 plan

    1. Frankly

      Thank You David!

      This makes sense.

      So the employee is paying about $650 and the district is paying $950. That is an order of magnitude smaller employee cost than some of the posters seem to be saying they were paying. This is also pre-tax, so include another 15%-20% in saving from the reduction in taxable income. So in real dollars we are talking about more like $500-$550 per month. Of course that is a lot of money, but it is better than what most workers in the private sector are dealing with.

      $19,200 per year should buy a Cadillac plan for a family at today’s costs. If the district is not offering top-end benefits at this level, there is something wrong with the negotiations, or else the risk-rating for the risk pool is higher than average. Do teachers tend to have more health problems than the average worker?

          1. growth issue

            Hello, I was just going by what what was posted here:

            “Davis Teacher
            February 10, 2014 at 7:38 am
            I am the teacher that contacted David. I am sorry if I was not clear. I pay $1617.72 every MONTH for Blue Shield.”
            and

            “So yes I can see a family paying over $1400 a month for insurance. I wish I had saved that memo, but alas I didn’t.”

          2. Dave Hart

            I think there is confusion sometimes by employees about their compensation package. However, it is not just teachers. You may or may not be surprised to know that most people don’t look very far beyond the dollar amount of their net paycheck. When they do, their first impression may be how much is taken out for taxes and other stated deductions. Many people will complain about those deductions, but may not notice other pre-tax compensation. Sometimes, employers don’t even list those so-called benefit payments.

          3. growth issue

            “growth issue
            February 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm

            So are you saying we were getting false info from all the posting teachers? I made the same error.”

            How did “I made the same error.” get attached to my post?
            I didn’t write that.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        It’s like $7800 per year out of a gross salary of something at the low end between $36,000 and $60,000, that’s a huge hit for younger teachers which was the nature of the concern.

        1. growth issue

          You know David, imo if you want more credibility next time you write a story like this do more fact checking and less hearsay. It can’t be that hard to get the insurance plans and structure of DJUSD benefit packages showing all the costs, options, co-pays, out of pocket, max yearly payout, etc. of all the plans so people can compare and make more of an educated opinion as to whether teachers deserve more money towards their benefits or not.

          1. Dave Hart

            I have to agree (as painful as it is) that when you get into compensation stories, you have to get down in the weeds and do the apples/oranges comparison. This is also why I am skeptical of many of the horror stories on ACA and its relative cost. It seems to be human nature to worry more about how much is on “his plate” versus what’s on “my plate”.

          1. SouthofDavis

            Frankly wrote:

            > A young teacher would more likely be single and pay
            > the lower cost for Individual coverage.
            > Or would be married with a spouse that is also working.

            I would be interested to see what percentage of teachers in Davis are covered by a working spouses insurance (and they don’t pay a penny for healthcare).

            It would also be interesting to see the percentage (and the dollar amount) of City of Davis employees that get a cash BONUS since they are married to someone with healthcare coverage.

  12. Ryan Kelly

    $7800 is $650 per month for family coverage? That is a lot, I agree.

    I agree with Growth Issue. What are the teachers options? When I looked at their contract on the DJUSD website, it looked like the District was contributing between $5900 annually for a single employee to $11,900 for family coverage. I could not find a chart which showed the healthcare options and employee contributions.

    1. Dave Hart

      Ryan, if I read “Classroom Teacher” correctly way above (earlier) here, it appears that for 2013 the DJUSD paid a maximum, flat amount of $11,900/yr for 3-party coverage of ALL three benefits including medical insurance premium, dental insurance premium, and vision premium and the employee pays the difference. $7,800/yr would account for just the medical insurance part of the package. That means the amount the employee pays depends on which medical insurance plan they select. The cheapest 3-party medical plan premium is $20,800/yr and the most expensive is $24,480/yr. Therefore, the cheapest plan package for all benefits for 3-party coverage costs the employee $8,900/yr or $742/mo and the most expensive costs $12,580/yr or $1,048/mo. If I’ve read this right, there are no options because coverage is mandatory (for a good reason) and it underscores how unsustainable this medical insurance racket has become.

  13. Frankly

    I am sharing my company plan and cost information for comparison.

    Here is the Blue Shield Simple Savings 2500/5000 HSA plan information…
    http://www.thesocialmisfit.com/BS2500HSA.pdf

    Here is my December 2013 monthly invoice:
    http://www.thesocialmisfit.com/BSBill.jpg

    Even though there are only 14 lines, this covers 16 of my 22 employees (there are two married couples working here).

    The highest premium, $1,556.00 is for one married couple and both employees are nearing 60 years old.

    The difference in premiums is entirely the number of covered people and their ages.

    I won’t say how much employees pay, but the company contributes $2500 annually to covered individual’s HSA account, and $5000 annual to the accounts of employees with family coverage (more than one covered person).

    This leaves a potential $1000 out of pocket max for individuals, and $2000 for families. However, the HSA money is the employee’s to keep and retain for future healthcare related expenses. So, the idea is to bank the money from low-utilization years to help cover any out-of-pocket hit for high-utilization years.

    And employees are more motivated to keep their utilization low so they have the money to use for future expenses and also uncovered healthcare events.

    For example, I have employees that have paid for their children’s uncovered dental work.

    I have employees that have paid for out of network specialists.

    There are two reasons I am posting this information.

    1. To demonstrate that the cost of teacher health insurance is too high for what they are getting.

    2. To demonstrate one of the many tragedies of Obamacare, as HSA plans have been in Democrats’ cross-hairs because they actually work and this then competes with their dreams of eventually moving the country to a single-payer system, and as a result they will be eliminated as part of the roll out of the legislation.

    1. Don Shor

      Interesting. Your annual $2500 HSA payment wouldn’t even cover the annual cost of my prescriptions for a pre-existing condition that has caused me to be unable to get affordable health insurance for years. To repeat: I pay, out of pocket, more than you donate to your employees. For something that is pre-existing. Which has, for decades, caused me to be either unable to get insurance, to have to get insurance that doesn’t cover the condition, or to have to accept coverage that was grossly inadequate but very expensive.

      However, I can now buy insurance quite readily, and my prescription is covered. So you want to debate the Affordable Care Act, Frankly? It has made it possible for me to get affordable health coverage for the first time in over thirty years.

      So go ahead. Please, please, please write an essay for David to post here about Obamacare. I’d love to debate it with you.

      1. growth issue

        Third notice: this is not going to be a debate about the Affordable Care Act. Any further comments will be edited or pulled. Thanks for your cooperation.

        1. Don Shor

          Do you get my point? Each time you or Frankly or another person makes a point, we will want to reply. He made a point about the ACA. I replied. That’s what’s going to happen if you and others here keep harping on Obamacare. And that is what I was trying to prevent.
          But evidently Frankly can’t let it go. So I replied.
          Got it?

          1. Frankly

            Don – I think the problem is your going too black and white on the determination of what is allowed and what is not. The fact is that there is a reasonable connection with ACA/Obamacare and the discussion over teacher healthcare insurance. I agree that we should not go off the grid in a conversation exclusively about ACA/Obamacare, but it seems valid and useful to allow connecting points as long as the post stays focused on the main theme of the article.

      2. Frankly

        Don – I am sure that your needed drugs would be covered under my insurance plan. So after you deplete your HSA money, you might have another $1000 in out of pocket, but then everything would be 100% covered for the rest of the year.

          1. Frankly

            They would if you worked for me under my company group plan.

            You are comparing apples to oranges with a group versus individual policy argument.

          2. Tia Will

            A very strong argument for not linking health care to type of employment in my mind. One’s health care needs don’t depend on whether or not one is productive through individual or group employment. So why should we continue the antiquated linkage of health care insurance to type of employment ?

    2. Dave Hart

      I understand the draw of the HSA to the employee and given the nature of the insurance industry it makes sense. What I don’t understand is the cost to you, the employer, if there was no deductible and you did not contribute to the HSA. Is it a wash or is does the zero deductible come with more than a $2,500 price tag for the single?

      1. Frankly

        The concept is that because the money is in the hands of the employee they will be better managers of their own care. For example, question the costs and use less costly providers for tests, etc.

        Basically, with the HSA the insurance company passes on a discount on the premium due to the expectation for lower utilization.

        So, no, if I paid for a zero-deductible insurance plan, since my employees would have no incentive to help save on medical costs, the total cost would be higher than it is for me to pay for a high-deductible plan and fund their HSA account.

        And consider that there are people that work hard to stay healthy. Yes others cannot control when they get ill, but in general those that work hard to stay healthy should be rewarded with money in their HSA account.

        1. growth issue

          Frankly, my daughter works for an employer in Davis. Her work buys high copay plans with a $5000 yearly cap. These plans tend to be a lot cheaper. Then her work has a $5000 HSA set up for every employee which my daughter draws from everytime she has to pay out of pocket. Hence, my daughter never pays a cent for insurance premiums or costs and it’s a lot cheaper for her boss to set it up this way plus the boss gets back all unused HSA money. to apply towards the next year.

          1. Frankly

            GI – yeah, this is a bit different but similar. It is an HSA pool. It counts on the employees having enough loyalty to the company and consideration of their fellow employees that they help keep utilization and costs as low as possible.

            We could set up the HSA that way in my company, but I have a percentage of employees that would see it as a “use it or lose it” benefit.

            The other problem I had with this approach is HIPPA. Basically since there would need to be a request from any employee to draw from the company HSA pool, and that request would need to be for a qualified medical cost, then asking for proof becomes a problem with respect to health privacy. If I put the money in the employee’s account, then it is up to that employee to verify eligibility of use and pay the penalties at tax time if they misused the funds.

            Another way to get the premium benefit of high-deductible plans without incurring the employer cost of HSA contributions is to set up pre-tax employee deductibles to help cover the deductibles and out of pocket maximums.

            For example, if the district switched from their low deductible plan to a high deductible plan, and then instead of requiring employees to pay $650/mth toward the premiums, then instead required the employee to put $400 per month pre-tax into an HSA account, both the district AND the employee would save money.

            The upside would also be that healthy employees start banking HSA dollars for the future.

            The downside is that people with existing conditions or that contract conditions that require expensive treatments or medication would have higher out of pocket hits.

            And when you really think about our problems with healthcare costs and Obamacare, it is this last consideration that is the source.

            There is an egalitarian impulse in some people that makes them reject the impact differential of bad luck or bad choices that result in health problems.

            The way I look at it… the more healthy a lifestyle I choose, the better chance I will not have expensive healthcare bills. But then I might just have bad luck and contract some bad disease that hits my pocketbook harder. I can accept that for two reasons: One – there is no good long-term alternative to making the healthy pay for the sick. Two – there are a lot of things in life that bad luck and good luck account for in terms of our financial well-being. For example, if you are lucky to be born with a great mind, you will have an easier time making a good living. So why don’t we attach a greater tax rate to those with a higher IQ?

          2. Frankly

            One – there is no good long-term alternative to making the healthy pay for the sick.

            Should have written…

            One – Making the healthy pay more for the sick is not a good long-term solution.

          3. growth issue

            I’m sure anyone who’s now getting their healthcare insurance much cheaper is happy as Hell. It’s all those other people who have seen their premiums, copays, deductibles and max out of pocket go up who are paying the price.

        2. Dave Hart

          All of your logic is sound as far as it goes. The concept of insurance is that it spreads the risk. To the degree people “take care of themselves”, yes, the individual risk for disease is lower and there are policies that are “Cadillac” or even “BMW” that recognize healthy behavior. I, personally, would benefit from such a plan. However, the more people who are absent from the risk pool at more fully participation level, the higher the premiums have to be for those who remain. The HSAs are an individual solution. I don’t agree that people over-use the medical system. I don’t personally know any hypochondriacs or anyone who goes to the doctor for fun or recreation and I don’t believe that personal behavior modification based on insurance rates is actually a proven result. I did notice that if someone at your business (who is young and takes care of themselves) were to end up in some kind of auto accident while on vacation in an area without a preferred provider could be hit with enough expenses to bankrupt them (footnote 7) which is another one of the failings of plans with higher deductibles and lots of fine print (an issue dealt with in the ACA). The main point is that cheaper is only cheaper when viewed from a particular point of view that may not always be the most appropriate one.

          1. Frankly

            Dave, the actuarials disagree with you on the point of utilization differences. People absolutely spend more on healthcare when it is other peoples’ money footing the bill.

            I will use myself for an example. This last year I needed an MRI. I wanted pricing because the cost was coming out of my HSA money. It was impossible to get from my medical group. Eventually I found a provider in Sacramento that published the cost and it was low enough that it made sense for me to go there to get my pictures taken. If somebody else was paying for it, I would not have wasted my time.

          2. Jim Frame

            It’s been at least five years (maybe even ten) since I looked into HSAs, but when I did the research the most compelling analysis I found (it may have been by Consumer Reports) concluded that in the long run it’s a wash versus a more traditional plan. I decided to stick with Kaiser. Cost aside, we’ve been pretty happy with the service.

  14. Ryan Kelly

    I’ve thought about this all day. This is just unacceptable that families with employer provided health insurance would have to pay $750 or more per month for insurance? I am really questioning the competence of their union representation in allowing this kind of situation to develop. There needs to be a shift. No raises but huge shifts in the employer’s share of benefits, a renegotiation of which health insurance options are being offered (obviously they need to find a better insurance company, a better insurance agent or a better employee in charge of negotiating these rates). This would increase take home pay for teachers, which is what they probably want anyway. No sense in giving raises, but increasing deductions which wipes away any progress.

    1. Greg Brucker

      Ryan:

      I appreciate your thoughts regarding premium costs and agree that no employee with health care through their employer should have to pay such a large portion of one’s paycheck to cover health care premiums. As I mentioned earlier in a post to you, to handle this purely through benefit contributions only helps some of the union members. To help all members equally, which is a goal of the union, the best approach is to look toward a raise in pay, which would be equitable across the district for all members. Otherwise, you set up a rift of negativity between those who were helped and those who weren’t.

      Having said all that, I’m wondering why you stated this:

      ” I am really questioning the competence of their union representation in allowing this kind of situation to develop.”

      For the last years, we’ve been in a situation where jobs were being lost or threatened to be lost. Do you think we should have advocated for more pay or to fix this problem at the same time? Where would the money have come from? Last time we were in solid territory was 6-7 or more years ago, and 7 years ago, we saw our last pay raise. What would you have recommended we do while jobs were on the line?

    2. Dave Hart

      I would not make such a statement about the union leadership or negotiators. Those kind of situations are very complex. The teachers are shouldering close to 50% of the premium costs for health insurance. The industry is actually pretty competitive when you look at ALL factors, so barring a fact-finding process that determines the DJUSD has done a bad job of negotiating rates (I have no idea if that is the case) the only thing that can be done in the short run is for the district to take on more of the load. I won’t venture into long term solutions because they are all out of the realm of direct local control, though I would feel better about it all if our local elected leaders could show us they have an inkling of what is happening in our national and global economy.

        1. Dave Hart

          40% nominal price paid, but when you add all the deductibles and out of pocket for medical expenses, especially when children are involved, the employees are paying 50% of their annual health care costs.

  15. Ryan Kelly

    What your system of “fairness” does is reward long time employees who have 1) higher salaries and 2) lower deductibles due to no longer having children at home or 3) those employees who have spouses with access to healthcare. The only way to even this out would be to require higher paid employees to pay more in deductibles to offset lower paid employees who have the double whammy of lower pay and higher deductibles or the District pays a greatest share of the healthcare deductible – or both.

    The teachers cannot use ever increasing healthcare costs as a reason they need to be paid more. Focus on the problem – healthcare – with the goal of increasing take home pay.

    1. Greg Brucker

      Ryan:

      Honestly, I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Can you explain a bit more?

      Also:

      “The teachers cannot use ever increasing healthcare costs as a reason they need to be paid more. Focus on the problem – healthcare – with the goal of increasing take home pay.”

      I’m confused. It seems like you are saying in the first sentence that we cannot use increased healthcare costs as reason for a pay raise, but in the second sentence, you are saying that we should use the need for better healthcare (coverage because they are one in the same in this conversation) to get higher pay. Can you clarify what you mean?
      Thanks

    2. Greg Brucker

      One other point, Ryan:

      I don’t think you understand the concept of a deductible when it comes to health care costs. I would strongly encourage you to learn more about the subject you wish to comment on before making the comment.

    3. Frankly

      The teachers cannot use ever increasing healthcare costs as a reason they need to be paid more. Focus on the problem – healthcare – with the goal of increasing take home pay.

      I agree with this. And in addition the district has absorbed more of the healthcare costs over the years. And those costs also need to be factored into the total compensation paid teachers.

      Listen, there is no doubt that it sucks… higher healthcare costs are eating a hole in everyone’s pockets. Why is the sob story for teachers any more tragic than for any other employee?

      There are things we should have done to reduce the cost of healthcare for the working people in this country. But if you voted Democrat and for Obama, then you elected politicians that did not do these things, and instead moved to increase your healthcare costs so that the “poor” could get “free” healthcare.

      And since teachers vote 80+% Democrat and 80+% for Obama, they really have nobody else but themselves to blame for the acceleration of the erosion of their discretionary income from increasing healthcare costs.

      1. growth issue

        Ding….ding…ding….good post Frankly
        If you’re going to be giving free and greatly reduced health care to a large segment of the population somebody has to pay for it. So if you happen to be one of those “job-locked” suckers just pay up and get used to it because if you live in Davis there’s a good chance
        (4 in 5) that you voted for it.

      2. Don Shor

        There are things we should have done to reduce the cost of healthcare for the working people in this country. But if you voted Democrat and for Obama, then you elected politicians that did not do these things, and instead moved to increase your healthcare costs so that the “poor” could get “free” healthcare.

        Again you’ve gone off topic. But you are also wrong.

        Expanding Medicaid to a higher percentage of the poverty level enabled many people to get public health care rather than either have no health insurance, or rely on (and then fail to pay for) emergency services. If the GOP governors had accepted the Medicaid expansion, there would be far fewer uncovered individuals.
        When you don’t have coverage, you cost the system more in the long run. Medicaid costs states, and may prove to be expensive for the federal government in the long run. But expanding Medicaid coverage definitely will reduce the cost of health care overall as people get access to preventive care and stop utilizing the most expensive forms of health care (and not paying for them). Interesting that every action taken by GOP governors will have the effect of increasing health care costs overall.

        Expanding the risk pool dramatically, as the individual mandate does, definitely reduces health insurance and health care costs in the long run. That is why it is central to the Obamacare and Romneycare plans. Why do you think everyone is watching to see the demographic breakdown of the early ACA enrollees? That will determine the overall trend of health insurance costs. And in the long run, reducing the number of uninsured is the best way to reduce health care costs.

        1. Frankly

          The early reports of the demographic breakdown does not look good at all. Far too few healthy young people are signing up.

          And this connects to the teacher pay issue because it is very likely that their health insurance costs are going to go up significantly because of Obamacare.

          1. Don Shor

            The early reports of the demographic breakdown are fine, actually. The young and healthy are signing up at a faster pace than they did in Massachusetts. Moreover, even if it stayed at the current age breakdown, the resulting premium increases would be about 2.4% per the Kaiser Family Foundation.
            So, again you are wrong.

  16. Ryan Kelly

    Great, Greg. I’m trying to have a conversation and you respond that I’m ignorant.

    I am referring to your pay check. (Not your share of cost for your doctor’s appointments.) Credit is income, Deductions are expenses. So if you get paid, that is income. But deductions are taken out of your gross pay and that leaves you with your net pay. I’m assuming that the employees costs for their healthcare are deducted from their paycheck. That is what I’m referring to.

    Challenge the District to find better health care insurance for its employees that they can afford. Have the District pick up more of the share of cost so employees can increase their take home pay (net income).

    1. Dave Hart

      Ryan, better healthcare that they can afford is a contradiction in terms. If the price they are paying for a given policy now is expensive, then one with lower deductibles will cost more and one that is cheaper is likely to have more deductibles (hidden charges). As I said earlier, the bottom price of a plan these days that doesn’t have large deductibles that could cost a family up to $400 a month on average costs about what the DJUSD is paying. I don’t like the idea of forcing our teachers or any public employees into crappier coverage and then stand back and call it “good coverage”.

  17. Frankly

    The teachers claim they are not paid enough and their share of healthcare costs are a reason that they need a raise.

    I have a related question.

    Is there a shortage of new teachers to take these jobs as they are today?

    One of the primary solutions for dealing with a job that does not pay enough is to go get a different job. If there are enough people quitting to go do something else because of pay, and suitable replacements cannot be found, then it becomes clear that there is a problem with the level of pay.

    I think there are thousands of bright young teachers more than willing to come take these jobs at their current pay and benefit levels.

    Am I wrong?

  18. Greg Brucker

    Ryan:

    I didn’t call you any names. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    For us to have a conversation, we should make sure we are both on the same page when it comes to terminology.

    You used the word “deductible” above. What a “deductible” is when it comes to healthcare and insurance is much different than how you use it. I believe you are referring to the idea of employee contributions toward one’s premium, but I am not positive. Unfortunately, using the word in the way you did actually makes your statement hard to understand and obscures your point (which I also don’t understand). Let me explain further:

    A “deductible” in healthcare, or insurance in general, simply, is what a person pays to insurance companies once a medical service is provided, and can range in amounts depending on the plan. Once one reaches the level of the deductible on the plan either through one or multiple medical services and payments, the insurance policy payments kick in according to the plan’s terms.

    But we’re not talking at all about “deductibles” when it comes to concerns the teachers have about what they are paying and the reason teachers are asking for help. Instead, we are talking about employer and employee “contributions,” which add together to cover the monthly “premium” of any health care plan. This is the money one owes just to be a part of the plan. Those are two totally different things. So, I believe you mean “contribution” when you use the word “deductible,” correct?

    Further, the healthcare “deductible” is not the same as a “deduction” of ones pay as a contribution toward premium costs.

    You then state:

    “I’m assuming that the employees costs for their healthcare are deducted from their paycheck.”

    This is correct. Employee contributions toward premiums come directly out of the paycheck.

    Having said that, I still don’t understand your overall point and would like you to re-explain your point.

    Thanks.

    1. Mark West

      Greg:

      Lower cost insurance plan options, with the District paying a larger share of the premium, will result in an increase in net pay to the teachers. That is what Ryan has said a couple of times. The problem is that he used the word “deductible” to refer to the monies ‘deducted’ from the employees pay check each period. In your vernacular that word apparently only refers to the amount of ‘out of pocket’ expense (the deductible) that the patient has to pay before insurance kicks in.

      Perhaps if you slowed down and tried to understand the meaning of Ryan’s post, rather then getting hung up on his choice of words, you would see that what he is suggesting is a method to put more money in your pocket without actually giving you a pay raise. You are correct, this will only help those employees who are using the District health care plans, but that really isn’t the issue. If you are using the high cost of insurance premiums to justify a pay increase, reducing those premiums addresses the problem directly without locking the District into unsustainable pay rates.

      You will get a lot more traction on the subject of reducing health insurance costs then you will on asking for a pay raise.

      1. Greg Brucker

        Mark:

        Thanks for the response and the clarifications on Ryan’s last posts. I appreciate it.

        “Lower cost insurance plan options, with the District paying a larger share of the premium, will result in an increase in net pay to the teachers. That is what Ryan has said a couple of times.”

        Yes, he has. And I’m not sure why anyone would dispute that point. That idea in itself is true. The problem is that we, nor the district are the ones that lock in the type of plans that get offered to us. CalPERS, the public employees retirement system allows districts to join and offer the plans that CalPERS offers. DJUSD is part of that. Then, the district and local union bargain on level of contribution. Therefore, it isn’t really our choice what offerings we have, so where we’d love to have lower cost insurance options be offered compared to what is there, that is out of our hands. We can only sign up for what is offered to us. When it comes to level of contribution, I think we’d all like to see it increase from the district, but with as many things high on the priority list, all new monies shouldn’t just go to teachers and benefits.

        If then the question is, why doesn’t CalPERS get better deals? I can’t give you that answer, but I would assume that they look for good deals with good care for us all.

        “The problem is that he used the word “deductible” to refer to the monies ‘deducted’ from the employees pay check each period. In your vernacular that word apparently only refers to the amount of ‘out of pocket’ expense (the deductible) that the patient has to pay before insurance kicks in. Perhaps if you slowed down and tried to understand the meaning of Ryan’s post, rather then getting hung up on his choice of words…. ”

        Thanks for explaining this; I didn’t want to just assume what he meant in case I was wrong, so I asked for clarification on the larger point being made while clarifying the terminology.

        “what he is suggesting is a method to put more money in your pocket without actually giving you a pay raise.”

        Sure, but as I said and you repeated:

        “You are correct, this will only help those employees who are using the District health care plans,”

        But it is the exact issue I am talking about as to a reason to help offset everyone’s costs and not just those who subscribe to the district offered healthcare. Having been 7 years without even a COLA, everyone does deserve a raise, as everyone has been slowly more and more pinched over time. For many people this year, the added healthcare costs put it over the top for them, and as a collective, we are looking toward helping offset everyone’s costs, especially in light of the added costs to those who had $200/month added to their health care costs this year.

        “If you are using the high cost of insurance premiums to justify a pay increase, reducing those premiums addresses the problem directly without locking the District into unsustainable pay rates. ”

        Sure, but that also goes against the direction that we as a group have looked toward moving. There is only so much money to go around when considering the many other places the new moneys should go to help (the district is looking to take a balanced approach, and I think it is the right move). Considering that, the union is interested in looking to find a way to give everyone a bit of relief, as I mentioned. And I mean really, would anyone be so against a pay raise but for a lowering of healthcare contributions that they would want to prevent relief to those who don’t take healthcare simply for principle? And further, would anyone then say that if it wasn’t spent purely on benefits, then no one should get anything?

        Does this disqualify what you mention as something that we should do? No. And as funding continues to increase and things become more stable financially, I absolutely see addressing benefit levels as something that the union would like to and should approach.

        Let me finish by stating that much of this thread’s discussion is centered around the level of benefit contributions. That is only one aspect, though a big one, of why we are asking for a raise. I’ve mentioned some of the other reasons in other comments. But the benefits are an issue and it is something that can be addressed by using part of the new monies to increase teachers’ base pay.

        1. Mark West

          “And I mean really, would anyone be so against a pay raise but for a lowering of healthcare contributions that they would want to prevent relief to those who don’t take healthcare simply for principle?”

          Changing the District’s contribution to healthcare does not have any impact on the amount of your pension. Pay increases will, costing the District much more in the long-term. Changing the District’s contribution to healthcare costs can be rescinded if the financial situation becomes worse. Pay increases will not be rescinded, the only option will be layoffs. Those are just two straightforward reasons to oppose pay increases if your stated goal is to give relief for out of pocket health care costs.

          As I have stated previously. I don’t think the District should consider pay raises until the Union agrees to implement a merit pay program so that all teachers are paid for their ability and not just the number of years on the job. You know who the good teachers are and who are lagging behind, and as a group you should be able to propose the criteria used for quality job reviews.

          Right now, teachers by choice have created a system where they are a commodity product with nothing of value other than their level of education and years on the job (that is how you have asked to be paid after all). As a commodity, until there is a shortage of teachers interested in taking a job in Davis, there really is no sound fiscal reason for the District to pay more for your services.

          Allow individual teachers to be paid for the quality of their performance and you and the other good teachers will be justified in demanding compensation commensurate with your excellent abilities. Just my opinion.

    2. Ryan Kelly

      I feel that you really want a raise in overall pay and don’t want other solutions. I will try to use terms that you understand.

      Teachers are saying that their contributions to their healthcare are too high and can’t afford this. They want a raise, but will still contribute the same amount toward their healthcare.

      What you are not willing to see is that finding insurance that is less expensive (their contributions are less) or increase the amount that the employer contributes will result in less money being deducted from their pay checks and result in a raise in their take home pay. Isn’t that what the teachers want?

      Maybe the District should search for plans that are less expensive or the employees should choose plans that are more affordable for them, if available.

      There are options. People have been suggesting some here.

    3. Matt Williams

      Greg, if you replace the word “deductible” with the word “deduction” in his comments, the meaning becomes pretty clear. You clearly made that logical connection, but you chose to be obtuse instead.

  19. J.R.

    My medical plan costs have increased just as much as the teachers. They haven’t offered to chip in to help me pay my extra costs, so I don’t see why I should pay for theirs. Why are their needs more important than my family’s?

    1. Dave Hart

      The teachers aren’t looking for a handout, they are trying to remedy a deteriorating compensation package eaten up by health care premiums. I assume you are not asking for a handout either. If you are an employee it is your responsibility to negotiate for affordable health care from your employer, as the teachers are doing. If you are an employer you are either doing well enough to pay the premium out of profits or you are in a business that is not doing well enough to pay your expenses. If it’s the latter, you should rethink your business plan, but the people of Davis, as a community, do not want to see our teachers net compensation fall so low that it becomes a personal sacrifice to teach our above average children.

      1. hpierce

        Would again like to nuance my opinion on the compensation issue. Fund basic insurance (Kaiser) but salary increases are lower on priority to me than reserves and deferred maintenance. Greg will probably not agree, because his ox is grazing on different straw.

      2. J.R.

        I’m not following your logic. It’s my responsibility to see that my taxes go to pay teachers to have a better deal on healthcare than I get? Explain this to me again.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          So if both you and the teachers have lousy deals on health care, your answer is to keep theirs bad because yours is bad, explain this to me again.

        2. J.R.

          You’re not following my argument, so let me try to simplify it.

          If Jack and Jill both have poor health plans, but Jill’s is better, why is it fair for Jack to have to pay extra to make Jill’s plan good, at the cost of not being able to meet his own family’s needs?

          You don’t seem to understand that when somebody gets a better deal, somebody else is being penalized to pay for it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “If Jack and Jill both have poor health plans, but Jill’s is better, why is it fair for Jack to have to pay extra to make Jill’s plan good, at the cost of not being able to meet his own family’s needs?”

            That’s not what’s being asked at this point. What’s being asked is that the additional money the district has, some go to pay to improve Jill’s health plan because as you admit, it’s poor. The decision has no impact whatsoever on Jack.

          2. growth issue

            “What’s being asked is that the additional money the district has, some go to pay to improve Jill’s health plan because as you admit, it’s poor. The decision has no impact whatsoever on Jack.”

            How about because the DJUSD has additional money they should cease the school parcel taxes so Jack has more money to go buy himself better insurance?

          3. J.R.

            “That’s not what’s being asked at this point. ”

            I disagree. I think that’s exactly what’s being asked. Jack is already digging into his pocket to every month so that Jill can get better benefits than him. Now Jill wants to get a pay raise that Jack won’t be getting, so that she is even better off than him. And she wants him to keep sending those monthly parcel taxes.

            The idea that city employees can be given pay raises without a corresponding cost to the tax payers is something that you usually understand David. But in this case you are not getting it. I wonder why.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Which would cover the costs of their healthcare, right? What they are really asking for is more money from the district go to support teachers, given the realities of how much they are paying for health care, that no longer seems unreasonable.

          1. Ryan Kelly

            David, Why just throw more money at the problem? Why not do the work to find lower cost health insurance plans?

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            What makes you think they can reduce? I also understand that the overall package was negotiated by CTA, statewide.

  20. hpierce

    ACA and PERS medical plans have somethings in common. They are “wide-net” and cover folks at risk, or have pre-existing conditions. Ever notice how morbidly obese many public employees are? How many tobacco users? That’s all figured into rates. We could restrict heath insurance to only those most fit, no ‘bad habits’, and no family history of problems. Raises the premiums for those who have insurance rates would be lower. We’d also have to eliminate emergency room treatment for those who are uninsured. Many can’t pay ‘list price’, and don’t, and that results in higher rates for the insured, to cover the medical providers losses. People will die, or will suffer, but that is a choice we can make.
    I’d rather fund employee medical insurance, and provide medical insurance to all, with all contributing, to spread the risk.
    Just my opinion.

  21. hpierce

    Should have written “For those who have insurance (and are not at “risk”) rates would be lower if we excluded the obese, those who have pre-existing conditions, tobacco users, etc., both in the public ans private sectors”. Got distracted, so my earlier message was “garbled”.

    1. Dave Hart

      hpierce: I’m one of those low risk (very low risk, thankfully) people and while I could gain from your suggestion, I would be no less of a drain on the insurance pool if I got nailed by a drunk driver and incurred massive hospital expenses than some obese, smoking public or private employee with a drinking problem. Everyone needs to be in the same risk pool paying premiums so that risk can be spread and cost can be spread.

  22. Tia Will

    What I see as a “freakin mess” is the need for any conversation about this at all. Make health care a universal right, distribute the “risk pool” across the entire population, establish single party payer under a Kaiser or Mayo like health care distribution model, and be done with the endless conversations, negotiations, bargaining, whining about who is paying more or less for what and be done with it. Root cause ( universal need for health care that will be paid for one way or another ) has not been addressed over decades by our private insurance industry. If all of this had been adequately addressed by the private sector, there would have been no need for any governmental intervention at all on any level, local , state or federal. So for those wanting to point fingers, look no further than the decisions made by private companies to not cover all comers in order to maximize their personal and corporate gain.

    1. J.R.

      We missed that opportunity when Obama pushed the terrible mess that we now have in the ACA. Single payer would have been better, but that well has been poisoned thanks to his incompetence.

  23. anonymous

    J.R.: Single payer would have been better, but that well has been poisoned thanks to his incompetence.

    I may have missed something, but did single payer have the votes to pass? Is this an alternative that the Republicans were pushing?

    1. Frankly

      “Single-payer” is a more politically convenient phrase for what would be a complete government take-over of the health insurance and probably also the healthcare industry.

      That is the new bailout excuse from those that voted for Obama and the Dems and supported Obamacare. It is a giant mess and so now they are saying “Well, I wanted single-payer anyway, so this is not my fault.”

      It is their fault.

      1. Don Shor

        The Affordable Care Act is not “a giant mess.” It is working very well at a key goal: getting the uninsured insured. Many of us would not be able to get health insurance, or affordable and effective health insurance, without it. For me, and for my employees, the Affordable Care Act is very successful. How the level of enrollment and the demographics of that enrollment may end up bending the cost curve is unknown. But millions of Americans now have health coverage who didn’t before, thanks to the ACA.
        I would personally NOT prefer single-payer, except for the versions we already have: Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA. Those serve specific populations with varying degrees of success.
        But the conservative theme that Obamacare has failed or is a “giant mess” is nonsense. And if you threaten to repeal/replace/amend it, at this point you’re threatening my health coverage. The sooner Republicans recognize that it is here to stay, the better.

        1. growth issue

          Don Shor conveniently fails to mention how many have lost their insurance because of Obamacare. He also fails to mention how many only signed up for ACA because ACA caused them to lose the insurance that they had and liked. Sure it works for some if they now get it for free or at a greatly reduced price, but at what cost to the rest of us? Yes Don Shor this is “a giant mess”. Why do you think Obama keeps pushing back key implementations of the law? Because he knows it’s going to create an even bigger mess.

          1. Don Shor

            As a result of Administration actions to allow additional 2013 policy renewals, half of the reported 4.7 million individuals who received cancellation notices have the option to renew their prior coverage.

            The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that half of individuals with current individual market coverage are eligible for tax credits through the new marketplaces and that an additional one million are eligible for Medicaid. These individuals will receive better coverage at lower cost by enrolling through the exchanges or signing up for Medicaid, and many have done so.

            Individuals who received cancellation notices are eligible to apply for a hardship exemption and purchase catastrophic health plans typically offered only to individuals under thirty. These plans are widely available throughout the United States.
            Of the reported 4.7 million people who receive cancellation notices, half should have the option to renew their 2013 coverage.

            Of the remaining 2.35 million individuals, approximately 1.4 million should be eligible for tax credits through the marketplaces or Medicaid. Of the remaining 950,000 individuals, fewer than 10,000 people in 18 counties in a single state would lack access to an affordable catastrophic plan. This is less than 0.2% of the estimate made by opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

            My apologies to the 10,000. Let’s hope they can find a good plan on the exchanges in their states.

            Here’s my source. http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ACA-Coverage-Statistics-2013-12-31.pdf
            Since it’s a Democratic congressional committee, I’m sure you can find some countervailing statistics. Just please be specific, since the “4.7 million” number is totally bogus. And be sure to add in the number of people who have signed up for new policies under Obamacare, and let’s see what your net is.

          2. Frankly

            Nearly one-quarter of all seniors rely on Medicare Advantage, the private health care option in Medicare. However, Obamacare makes such deep cuts to that program that half of those covered will no longer be able to keep the coverage they have.

            New taxes on drug companies ($27 billion) and medical device makers ($20 billion), as well as new reporting requirements and regulations imposed on physicians, will make access to health care and services more costly and difficult for seniors under Obamacare.

            Obamacare expands government’s role as the primary payer of health care by adding 18 million people to the Medicaid program, which on average reimburses doctors only 56 percent of the market rate for medical procedures.
            Due to increased regulation and less reimbursement, 66 percent of doctors are considering no longer accepting government health programs.

            $52 billion in new taxes will be imposed on businesses by mandating that employers provide health insurance.
            On February 10, 2011, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the House Budget Committee that Obamacare will result in an estimated 800,000 fewer U.S. jobs. (Note… that estimate has since been revised to 2.5 million fewer jobs)

            By 2019, over 80 million people will be on the Medicaid program—requiring billions of dollars from state budgets and taxpayers.

            Twenty-one State Attorneys General have filed suits to protect their citizens from being forced, in violation of the Constitution, to purchase government-approved health insurance.

            Go here http://www.manhattan-institute.org/knowyourrates/ to see the pre and post ACA insurance rates. In almost every state the costs have increased. And this thing has only started.

          3. Don Shor

            The goal of the reduction of Medicare Advantage (private) is to reduce the exorbitant cost by shifting people back to Medicare. But it is phased in gradually (4% reduction in 2014). Medicare Advantage was very costly and was not paid for.

            $47 billion (new taxes) isn’t really very much, believe it or not. But it helps pay for the expansion of government-provided health care.

            “…expands government’s role as the primary payer of health care…”

            Yes. That seems self-evident that if you expand health care to the very poor and near-poor, and the government is the one to do it (because nobody else will), then you are expanding government’s role. That bothers you. It doesn’t bother me.

            On February 10, 2011, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the House Budget Committee that Obamacare will result in an estimated 800,000 fewer U.S. jobs. (Note… that estimate has since been revised to 2.5 million fewer jobs)

            And, as you know, he has explained the basis for that supposed number. It isn’t true in the manner you and others have presented it.

            By 2019, over 80 million people will be on the Medicaid program…

            Yes. The population is getting older, and there are a lot of people who can’t afford health insurance. The private market has failed those people. So government will be providing health insurance and health care for them. I consider that a role of government. You don’t.

            Twenty-one State Attorneys General have filed suits to protect their citizens from being forced, in violation of the Constitution, to purchase government-approved health insurance.

            Yes. Republicans continue to obstruct, at every opportunity, the expansion of health care.

          4. Frankly

            the CBO—Congress’s official fiscal scorekeeper, widely revered by Democrats and Republicans alike as the gold standard of economic analysis—reported that by 2024 the equivalent of 2.5 million Americans who were otherwise willing and able to work before ObamaCare will work less or not at all as a result of ObamaCare.

            The overall level of labor will fall by 1.5% to 2% over the decade, the CBO figures.

            And what do Democrats say about this?

            Nancy Pelosi:

            “this was one of the goals. To give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.”

            Amazing? Absurd? No, this is just how modern liberal-progressives view the world. There is “good” work and there is “bad” work. And people that do “bad” work are victims. It is better that they don’t work at all rather than do the “bad” work. And since Obamacare gives them “free” healthcare, they can now quit and chase their dreams… even if their dream is to grow large on the couch watching Ellen on their 50″ flat screen while munching Cheetos all day.

            This quote from Pelosi should be everything we need to know about the views of liberal-progressives and why they are so wrong for this country.

            Maybe teachers should just quit and get free healthcare and pursue their dreams.

          5. Don Shor

            “The reason that we don’t use the term ‘lost jobs’ is there’s a critical difference between people who like to work and can’t find a job or have a job that was lost for reasons beyond their control and people who choose not to work,” he said, giving the example of someone who was laid off versus someone who decided to spend more time with their family or retire early. — CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf.
            It amazes you to learn that people are stuck in jobs because they can’t afford to lose their health coverage? And that they might change their working hours, or move to another job opportunity now — you consider that absurd?

          6. Frankly

            We are not talking about replacement jobs Don… we are talking about a reduction in working hours. We are talking about people that can check out of work because someone else is paying for it. You really want to agree with Pelosi that this is a good thing for our country?

            Since when did not working become a better life situation than working?

          7. Don Shor

            My business partner’s wife (in the 1980’s) got a job solely for the health insurance benefits. She worked for six years at UC Med Center so she and he and their daughter could have lifetime health coverage. Why? Because he and I were stuck in the independent health insurance market, which even then was capricious and subject to cancellations, sudden price increases, and poor coverage.
            She would have preferred to stay home. The daughter was young and would have benefitted from that. But they did what they had to do in order to get health coverage.
            So yes: sometimes it is a “good thing for our country” that people can have greater work mobility or greater work flexibility due to the ACA. And yes: sometimes not working is a better life situation than working, for some individuals in some situations.

          8. growth issue

            Don, I could post 10 articles that refute what you posted. Do you want me to go there? Cause I can. BTW, imo Kaiser is in the hip pocket of Obamacare because they most likely stand to profit from it.

          9. growth issue

            Really Don, you post a Democrat House minority report and think anyone is going to really going to take it seriously?

        2. Frankly

          ”It is working very well at a key goal: getting the uninsured insured.”

          Don, you are a revisionist. You tend to rewrite and restate and reform words and change the argument to fit into a box of your making.

          Go back and read all the promises made by Obama and the Dems. Except for Nancy Pelosi that voted for the bill so she could see what was in it, the primary promise was that it would make healthcare more affordable to all but the very rich. Other promises were made… that you would get to keep your plan and your doctor “period”.

          Obamacare is a giant mess. Just because you benefit from it does not make it less of a mess for a very large percentage of the population.

          1. Don Shor

            Repeat: Obamacare is not a giant mess. And I am not a revisionist. But once you just start repeating slogans and tossing off characterizations, the discussion is over.

          2. Ryan Kelly

            Obamacare has been a godsend for many, many people. I stopped listening to the negative soundbites a long time ago. I’m sure there are unanticipated impacts that couldn’t be predicted, but I’m sure our Congress can pass legislation to correct those…(says the always hopeful citizen).

          3. Don Shor

            I’m sure there are unanticipated impacts that couldn’t be predicted, but I’m sure our Congress can pass legislation to correct those.

            Once Hilary’s elected, and Republican accept that the ACA is here to stay, maybe they can pass some legislation that will address the unanticipated impacts.

          4. Frankly

            Hillary with a GOP Congress and a population continually pissed at Obamacare and a growing sense that their economic future has been shattered by it.

            Nope. They won’t pass anything other than legislation to repeal most of it.

          1. growth issue

            Frankly, did you see where the guy with the pen and the phone pushed back the employer mandate a few more years? I thought that was crucial for paying for all of this?

          2. Frankly

            What is crucial for Dear Leader at this point is to help prevent Democrats from being pummeled in the next election.

            And that absolutely makes sense for a President that governs on politics and popularity over doing the right things.

            However, the most glaring issue related to this is the blatant hypocrisy of those Obama lovers on the left. Republicans would skewer any President doing the things that Obama does. However, Democrats just cannot even seem to acknowledge his lies and abuses of power… let alone demand that they stop.

            Why does Obama get a left-pass for anything he does?

            I think we know why.

          3. Frankly

            One reason is that many liberals and lefties fear being made to admit that they are wrong more than death itself.

            They will just deflect, deny, wait, ignore, etc… hoping that enough people will forget so they can again push their proven failed ideas with the hope that this time they will work.

      2. Tia Will

        This might have some validity if it were not the case that I have favored single party payer ever since I was old enough to be aware that other countries were doing it successfully and obtaining better health outcomes than we had in the US. That would have been over 30 years ago. I fail to see how this firmly held belief, based on real world evidence, has anything at all to do with the ACA.

    1. growth issue

      Why not wdf1, your Attorney General wants them to be able to vote. Once the Obama administration realised that felons tend to vote Democrat the push started to make them voter legal.

      On another note what do you think of the second firing of the volleyball coach Crawford? Does this have ties to the School Board?

          1. wdf1

            Davis Enterprise: School board will meet Thursday morning

            The board also will meet in closed session to consider whether to hear an employee appeal of a parent complaint. There’s speculation that this concerns the district’s recent decision not to renew Davis High School volleyball coach Julie Crawford’s variable services agreement.

          2. wdf1

            Davis Enterprise: Retaliation may be at root of coach’s dismissal

            Davis High School volleyball coach Julie Crawford retaliated against her leading critic, school board member Nancy Peterson, by cutting Peterson’s daughter Emma — a varsity player since she was a sophomore — from the girls roster last summer, a school district investigation concluded.

            That retaliation was in violation of board policy, the investigator said, and it may be at the root of the district’s decision not to rehire Crawford as boys volleyball coach for the spring season.

          3. Michelle Millet

            Maybe I don’t understand the rules regarding recusing oneself from a vote, but in this instance it seems that Peterson should do so.

  24. gordon

    All this hulabaloo.

    Fighting over scraps left from Reagan’s trickles.

    We could just go to the Fed and ask that nice new chair, yellen for some QE. It costs them nothing. They’ve been handing out billions of $ every month for the last few years.

    1. growth issue

      Yes Gordon, I don’t think she wants the markets to tank in the onset of her career, so I think the printing presses will be put back into high gear and Yellen will get the free money gellen. Some day it will all come crashing down.

      1. Tia Will

        Gi

        “Why not wdf1, your Attorney General wants them to be able to vote”

        And your objection to an individual who has fully “paid their debt to society” fully reintegrating into that society as a fully participating member would be ?

        “Some day it will all come crashing down.”
        And surely you have not forgotten the ” all come crashing down” that occurred already in
        2008. Crashes can occur as the result of private as well as governmental “bad players”.

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