Alabama could see fewer teachers after insurance increase

Alabama could see fewer teachers after insurance increase

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The men and women who teach your children could see their insurance rates increase and it's all because of the state's budget problems.

The legislature must approve how much money to spend funding PEEHIP, The Public Education Employees' Health Insurance Plan.

This year, the amount spent on the program left a $140 million shortfall. To fix the gap, teachers will now have to pay an additional $25 per month surcharge to have a spouse on the insurance, as well as $5 increases to the dental plan and copays for specialists.
The good news is education leaders say the insurance increases were not nearly as bad as they could have been. The bad news is they worry cutting away at teacher benefits will stop educators from wanting to teach in Alabama.
Beverly Sims with the Alabama Education Association said it's important to remember the reason why teachers typically get good benefits, like cheaper health insurance.
"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,” Sims said.
Alabama does fall toward the bottom half of states when it comes to average teacher salary, with an average salary of around $36,000.

Sims is worried if teacher benefits continue being cut, people won't have any reason to become a teacher in this state.

"When you start increasing your PEEHIP, when you start increasing your out of pocket retirement contributions, and then you have no raises, we've had no raises in 8 years for educators, then it starts to become very disheartening,” Sims said.
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