Teachers say they were surprised by changes to MCPS health insurance
District cites pandemic as one reason for higher costs
An announcement from Montgomery County Public Schools detailing changes to employees’ health insurance coverage surprised some educators.
In a message to staff members on Monday, MCPS Associate Superintendent of Finance Dan Marella wrote that “expenses related to testing, treatment and care of COVID-19, and a general trend of increase in the cost of care, among other things, will require an increase in premiums for 2021.”
Marella wrote that the increased cost to employees will range from $2.59 per paycheck to $16.91 per paycheck, depending on the coverage the staff member chooses.
The percentage of premiums paid by the Board of Education and employees is covered by contract negotiations, but “the increases in premiums from year to year are not,” according to Marella. He wrote that the school system will continue to pay 83% or 88% of premiums toward health insurance costs, in alignment with previous agreements between MCPS and the unions.
In a message to union members on Friday, urging them to speak out against the changes, Montgomery County Education Association President Chris Lloyd wrote, “A healthcare premium increase is a pay cut, and in these times, there should be no pay cut to workers who have given their heart and soul to this work.”
Lloyd, who could not be reached for comment on Monday, wrote that all three MCPS employee unions oppose the insurance changes.
In response to an email from Bethesda Beat seeking comment, MCPS forwarded the message Marella sent to all employees, detailing the changes.
The changes to employees’ insurance premiums will take effect in February. In January, employees will pay no premiums.
“The shortfall caused by the premium holidays for employees in January 2021 will be made up from the health care contingency fund, reducing that fund to below recommended levels at least temporarily,” Marella wrote.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org