LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Health insurance premiums for public employees are going up starting in January.
A public school teacher for more than 30 years, Jaime Rollans has seen her health insurance go up.
"My salaries are at the end of the line, and they won't go up unless they have overall raise for everyone. I'm also looking at how I'm budgeting. That increase will come from somewhere," says Rollans.
It's an approximately a 20 percent increase starting in January. For example, the Gold Health Insurance plan for one person costs $187 this year. Next year, it goes up $226. The family insurance plan could cost more than $1,000 a month.
"I think that is a huge increase for people to absorb," says Rollans.
Out of the 145,000 public workers, only school employees will have an increased monthly bill and often paying twice as much as other workers. Jason Lee is the executive director for the Employee Benefits Division.
"Every state agency is required to contribute $390 per month toward insurance. On the district side, the district is only required to contribute $131," says Jason Lee.
Lee explains it's a state legislature formula that can only be changed through law because the state Education budget and other state agencies are and have been separate for years. That's why the Arkansas Education Association plans to speak with lawmakers next year on increasing the state or school district contribution.
"I don't know if this is the case but I think perhaps most people think teachers are women or they could be covered under their husband's insurance," says Rollans.
Lee says the formula has nothing to do with gender or salaries. Half of Arkansas school district's like the Pulaski County Special School District contribute more than the $131 requirement.
"What a school employee pays in one district will be different than what they pay miles down the road," says Lee.
Lee says the higher health insurance premiums are due to medical inflation like higher costs of medication. The Department of Education is required to pump $35M into the health insurance budget. Some teachers were surprised at the insurance changes, the Employee Benefits Division Board voted in August to increase the costs.