ACA Is Not To Blame For Higher Teacher Healthcare Costs - And Response (3)

Saturday, August 30, 2014
It's disingenuous for Rhonda Thurman to blame the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the increase in healthcare costs. If she checked her facts, she would find that the ACA seems to be responsible for reducing the rate at which costs are increasing. This is another example of her misinformation campaign.

It is a shame that the teachers of Hamilton County, who work so hard to teach and protect the most vulnerable citizens, are being put upon once again by having their healthcare coverage costs increase and also given fewer choices. It may come as quite a shock to many that the Plan S voted on by the school board will require teachers to go out of town to receive some types of care. Seems like not only will that take precious money away from the home community, but it will mean that some teachers will be out of work more to take a trip to Nashville or Knoxville for a full day when they could have received the same care in Chattanooga and missed less time at work. How is that helping reduce costs?

At least Ms. Thurman is honest about her motivation, it's all about the withholding of funds to the school system. She has always been honest about that. Never once have I heard her speak about helping students, or teachers or administrators. She perceives the school system as an enemy to be slain. I'm grateful to have escaped (by retiring) from the oppressive regime of the school board and the policies now in effect in Tennessee. I sincerely hope that the teachers find a way to express their frustration and sense of powerlessness and make it clear to the public that they can't continue doing their jobs with so little support.

Susan Landis

* * *

Maybe ACA is not to blame for higher teacher healthcare, but it is to blame for my higher healthcare, according to our insurance broker and Blue Cross representative. My employer just renewed our healthcare insurance. I know what our rates were before, the total cost, what my employer pays, and what the employees pay. 

Our emergency room copay increased from $100 to $250 around 3 years ago. My deductible is 5 times higher that it was 4 years ago. Our only choice is Network S. I don't know if that is what Plan S is for the teachers, but we are able to get care for everything I checked on here in Chattanooga. It's quite a boon for Erlanger, actually. 

Our lowest-paid employees would be ecstatic at only having to pay $100 per month to cover a spouse. As it is, they must work over 25 percent of their time to pay their share of family coverage. And that is a very small percentage of the full cost.

The major difference between my coworkers and me, and the teachers, is that our employer is a private company, whose costs for our benefits must be paid from their income, and the cost of the teachers' benefits comes from public/taxpayer money. Another difference is that we don't get annual raises, whether step, merit, or cost of living.

Yes, I think teachers work hard, I know they work much more than the 200 days in the school calendar, I think they are expected to do much more than just instruct. I know money is getting tighter and tighter, and tough choices have to be made regarding where to spend the public/taxpayer money.

Macel Holloway

Signal Mountain

* * *

Ms. Landis, I don't know where you got your statistics in regard to local teacher's insurance. You obviously do not read the or the News Free Press.

August 15, 2013, in an article in the, Ed Adams, Hamilton County Risk Manager, warned the school board that new rules and fines under Obamacare would require payment of $2,000 per employee to keep their current benefit plan. And next year the fine would be $3,000 per employee.

In an article by Kate Harrison Belz and Kevin Hardy in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, December 12, 2013, the reporters stated a tax aimed at helping to fund the expansion of health care and curb the overuse of medical care is directly targeting plans like Hamilton County School's plan. All of this, they said, is due to trimming rising costs and conforming to new health care regulations.

Try as hard as you may to deny this Ms Landis, new health care requirements are in the ACA (Obamacare). And they are largely the cause of teachers paying more in premiums and losing benefits.

It's true rising costs would have contributed to the selection of a new plan for teachers. But Obamacare is taxing the better plans to pay for the uninsured. Just last year Hamilton County had to pay $321,000 in new fees to the Feds just for the privilege of insuring their employees. That's almost 8 teaching positions lost to Obamacare.

Know all the facts before rushing to defend something members of Congress didn't even understand before they voted for it (Nancy Pelosi).

Ralph Miller

* * *

Thank you, Ms. Landis, for a great letter.  I agree with you totally (especially about Rhonda Thurman).

And yes, Obamacare is not perfect; however, why not also blame the insurance companies and their greed?  The insurance companies have to keep their profits up even when they can't use "pre-existing condition" to not cover someone or dump someone because their claims were too much. 

Vicki Hill

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