In one year, teachers in the Dearborn Heights School District went from paying nothing for their own health insurance premiums to paying as much as 37.5 percent toward that cost.

Dearborn Heights Superintendent Jeffrey Bartold said in an email the teachers who pay that much voluntarily do so because they wanted to keep the more expensive MESSA health care plan. Bartold said teachers who switched to a less expensive plan only pay 20 percent of their health care costs. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association that purchases health insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and resells it to school districts.

“We were asking all employees to contribute 20 percent and change health care providers, but the teachers wanted to keep MESSA and pay the higher contribution rates,” Bartold said.

Teachers chose to keep the more expensive MESSA plan and pay between 32.5 and 37.5 percent of their own health care premiums depending on where they are on the salary scale, Bartold said.

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The school district saved taxpayers about $750,000 by having the teachers share in the cost of their own health care, Bartold added. Dearborn Heights didn’t lay off any teachers this year, according to a Freedom of Information Act request. In fact, the district has 146 teachers this fall, which is one more than it had last year.

The other employee bargaining groups in the district switched insurance carriers, Bartold said.

MESSA cost taxpayers in the district $17,996 for a family plan and $7,999 for a single plan in 2010-11, according to information received through the FOIA.


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Jim Riley got his own fiscal house in order so he could retire. Now he wonders why his city government can’t do the same for their employees, and taxpayers who could end with huge bills from the unfunded retirement liabilities.

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