ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thousands of New Mexico educators celebrated the state legislature’s decision to hand out big raises this school year, but many of those educators will also see more money taken out of their checks for insurance payments.
An agency insuring more than 30,000 educators statewide, the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority (NMPSIA) is raising insurance premiums on both its medical and dental plans in October.
For “low” tier medical plans, premiums will rise 3.1%, costing an additional $5 to $16 per month depending on how many people are covered by the plan.
For “high” and “EPO” tier plans, premiums will rise 5.9%, costing an additional $7 to $41 per month depending on how many people are covered. Dental plan premiums will also be increased by 5%, adding an extra $0.54 to $1.62 per month.
Most educators outside of Albuquerque Public Schools are insured under plans negotiated by NMPSIA. APS is not part of NMPSIA, but rather negotiates its own insurance plans.
NMPSIA’ premium price hikes come after the 2019 legislative session where lawmakers approved 6% raises for all New Mexico public school staff.
Albuquerque Teachers Federation union president Ellen Bernstein says the raises have been mostly well-received. “People were really grateful,” said Bernstein. “One person said to me, that’s a car payment, another person said, wow this is going to help with my student loan debt.”
However, Bernstein says she has already heard from educators who are concerned about premium price hikes. “Both the statewide insurance authority and APS have had increased year after year after year,” said Bernstein.
While it’s unclear if APS educators will be insurance premium price hikes this year, Bernstein says she expects them to happen, like the ones NMPSIA has encountered. “We have this resentment built up that as soon as we get a raise, some of these built-in fees take it away,” said Bernstein.
The lowest-paid school employees will likely see around $900 dollars before taxes this school year with the raises.
While the premium hikes are of concern, Bernstein believes most raises will outweigh likely higher insurance costs this year. “It will not eat as much of our raise, because the raise feels substantial enough,” said Bernstein.
APS is likely to announce soon if insurance premiums will go up for its employees.
Lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill in the last session, House Bill 511, that would have set-aside more state funds to help lower costs of some educators’ insurance premiums. The bill died in committee.