CTA President Clinton McCracken sent the email below to School Board members. Check www.orangecta.com for bargaining updates/summaries.
October 18, 2023
Dear School Board Members,
By now, you’ve probably seen communication from CTA about how OCPS’s health insurance proposal would increase the cost of health insurance for educators by 64% on average.
We want to provide some additional context on where that number comes from and why we believe the increase is unjustifiable.
The number comes directly from data provided by the District to CTA on health insurance enrollment and premiums. The vast majority of CTA-represented educators are enrolled in Plan A (Local Plus) or Plan C (OAPIN), and this data refers to those two plans.
During the 2023-24 plan year, CTA-represented educators will collectively pay about $13.6 million for health insurance coverage. That includes educators in all coverage tiers—employee only, employee plus children, employee plus spouse, and employee plus family. Under OCPS’s proposal, CTA-represented employees would pay $22.3 million for health insurance coverage starting in the 2024-25 plan year (which increases in subsequent years). That’s an increase of $8.7 million hoisted on educators already struggling to make ends meet. If you’re doing the math, an $8.7 million increase on top of $13.6 million represents an increase of 64%.
Keep in mind that the 64% increase represents the average increase over our current bargaining unit. For CTA-represented educators enrolled in Plan A, the average increase is 78% (which covers about 7,500 educators). For CTA-represented educators in Plan B, the average increase is 49% (which covers about 3,700 educators). For new educators, OCPS proposed even higher contributions that would create a two-tier system at a time when we are struggling to recruit and retain educators.
Bringing it back to dollars and cents, the largest dollar-for-dollar increases would fall on educators with dependent and family coverage. For CTA-represented educators with family coverage, the average cost for coverage would increase by more than $1,500 per year. The irony is glaring—educators dedicate their careers to taking care of other people’s children, but when it comes to their own, they are left to fend for themselves.
How does an increase of 64% compare to what’s happening in the broader health insurance market?
According to a nationally recognized source, Mercer, employers expect the cost of coverage per employee to rise somewhere between 5.4% (after plan changes) and 6.6% (before plan changes) in 2024.
That means that OCPS is proposing an increase about 10 times higher than the national average.
Perhaps OCPS is in a unique situation that deviates from the national average?
The short answer is no. According to the OCPS Employee Benefits Trust Report (August 2023), the per member per month cost of medical and Rx claims increased 6.5% from 2022 to 2023, making OCPS completely in line with the national average. Even going back 10 years to 2013, the per member per month cost increased by 42.6% from 2013 to 2023.
Our positions on health insurance have been guided by an intellectually honest assessment of the underlying facts. Simply put, the facts do not support an increase of 64%. We want to give OCPS the benefit of the doubt. However, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that OCPS is leveraging salary increases as a bargaining chip to force unjustifiable health insurance increases on educators.
Orange CTA President