The latest increases for educators in Alabama have people wondering if the position will lose its appeal.
Budget struggles in Alabama will likely be sending the out of pocket expenses for teacher insurance benefits upward, yet again, and while it may not have been as dramatic as some had predicted, it is still an added cost and there are worries with regards to the impact that this could have on the profession of the educator.
The issue is that teachers will be paying higher insurance rates for their coverage which could prove expensive.
At the core of this problem is that the legislature in Alabama needs to give its approval to the amount of money that it will be spending on The Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (PEEHIP). This year, there was a considerable shortfall for the teachers’ insurance benefits. In fact, the amount that was spent on the program left a shortfall of $140 million. In order to repair that difference, teachers will now be required to pay a monthly surcharge of an additional $25 in order to be able to continue to cover their spouses on their plans. Moreover, there will also be an increase of $5 on dental plans as well as on copayments for specialists.
Though this may not sound like too much on its own, these surcharges on insurance benefits add up.
That said, there are many among the leaders in education in the state who are relieved that the increase in the insurance rates being paid weren’t even higher than that. Several people had predicted that there would be notably greater increases than the ones that are actually being applied.
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Still, it has been pointed out that by cutting away at the insurance plans that teachers are receiving, it could reduce the appeal for being educators in the state. This could cause teachers to go elsewhere for employment and for fewer to train for the positions.
According to Beverly Sims from the Alabama Education Association, it is vital not to forget the reason that teachers in Alabama are receiving attractive benefits – such as affordable health insurance – in the first place. Sims explained that teachers are often offered beefed up benefits packages “It’s in lieu of salaries because Alabama is on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to how much we pay our educators.”
The average teacher’s salary in Alabama is about $36,000, which places the state among those that pay their teachers the least. Insurance benefits have always played an important role in ensuring that people will still be willing to teach there.