From our State Treasurer back in 2017:
“Did You Know?
During 2017, the state spent $3.3 billion on medical and pharmacy benefits. At the same time, costs have increased 5 to 10 percent while funding for the Plan only saw a 4 percent increase. In addition, the state has a $34 billion unfunded liability for retiree health care. This liability is a result of promises that were made for lifetime benefits but no money was ever put aside to pay for that benefit.
What Can You Do?
You can help sustain this benefit by taking control of your medical costs.”
Many teachers and other state employees received those words from Dale Folwell, CPA who is still the State Treasurer for North Carolina. He sent a letter with new ID cards for the state health plan that is contracted through Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
And simply put, his letter was rather insulting, at least to me and to some other teachers.
I could not help to think that in a missive meant to outline benefits to a person whom “North Carolina values,” I was also being told that I literally cost too much, was promised too much, and that it was my job to not be as much of a burden on the state.
And that paragraph under the “Did You Know?” heading actually shows a bit of a contradiction in how the state seems to treat the teaching profession: as prices for services and products go up in most every segment of the economy, the willingness to invest in those very things seems to not be the same.
What if the words associated with benefits were replaced with words associated with public education?
“During 2017, the state spent $3.3 billion on public schools. At the same time, costs have increased 5 to 10 percent while funding for education only saw a 4 percent increase. In addition, the state has a $34 billion deficit in unfunded mandates for public education. This liability is a result of promises that were made for our state’s students but no money was ever put aside to pay for those.”
That’s actually what really happened with public education: watching costs rise to properly educate students and recruit and keep quality teachers without raising our own investments to keep up with those costs.
And the idea that we teachers and government employees must try and cut costs to help the state finance insurance benefits when the state literally is giving massive corporate tax breaks and limiting the very revenues that come to the state to begin with is rather hypocritical.
Maybe Folwell needs to talk to Blue Cross and Blue Shield and get them to better negotiate prices for medical care and not us.
Because telling a bunch of teachers to “save” money on their medical costs to help the state is like telling teachers to teach more students with less money spent per pupil buying power.
That’s already happening.
And new hires no longer get retiree health benefits.