Health insurance costs rising for many New Mexico teachers

Associated Press
Health insurance premiums will rise next month for thousands of New Mexico educators.

ALBUQUERQUE - Health insurance premiums will rise next month for thousands of New Mexico educators.

The New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority, which insures more than 30,000 educators statewide, is increasing insurance premiums its medical and dental plans in October, KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports.

“Over the last three years, NMPSIA has experienced a higher number of high-cost claimants,” the agency said in a statement. “There (have) been several cases of premature newborns and many members with cancer, heart disease, renal failure, and other chronic and rare medical conditions.”

The agency also said the increase in specialty drugs and the inflation of prescription drug costs for treating many of these conditions have contributed to increased costs.

For so-called low tier medical plans, premiums will rise 3.1% and cost members an additional $5 to $16 per month depending on how many people are covered by the plan.

For the high tier plans, premiums will rise 5.9%, meaning those with the plans will pay an additional $7 to $41 per month.

Dental plan premiums will rise 5%.

The premium price hikes come after the 2019 legislative session, when lawmakers approved 6% raises for all New Mexico public school staff.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation union president Ellen Bernstein said she has already heard from educators concerned about premium price hikes.

“Both the statewide insurance authority and (Albuquerque Public Schools) have had increased year after year after year,” said Bernstein.

Most educators outside of Albuquerque Public Schools, the state’s largest district, are insured under plans negotiated by the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority. Albuquerque Public Schools is not part of the agency, but negotiates its own insurance plans.

Still, Bernstein said Albuquerque educators may also see premium hikes.

“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.

State lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill during the last session that would have set-aside more state funds to help lower costs of some educators’ insurance premiums. The bill died in committee.