Health care costs for Vermont school
are expected to rise rapidly again next year. The growing expenses are sure to
put pressure on school budgets and local property taxes.
Analysis from the Vermont Education
Health Initiative suggests insurance premiums for teachers will go up roughly
14 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. That's compared to an average
increase of 3 percent in each of the last five years.
VEHI, a collaboration between the
teachers union and school boards, says there are three main reasons behind the
increase. Tops is a rise in claims-- teachers are seeking more medical care,
including a large increase in specialized care, like cancer treatment. Second,
the recession hurt VEHIs investments, reducing financial reserves. And third,
rising costs from new benefit mandates and health care reforms.
"We realize the
challenge for districts. We do trust them to make thoughtful decisions and take
this into account as well as all the other factors. I'm a school board member,
I know what that's like," said Laura Soares of VEHI.
The Department of
Education says a 14 percent increase translates into roughly $32 million in
additional costs. The figures are still estimates and could change depending on
new regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act.
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