Dozens of teachers packed the Arkansas Department of Education auditorium today to hear lawmakers' take on exploding costs of teacher health insurance?
The rates for teacher insurance for 2014 were set recently and the drastic increase has some teachers and faculty thinking about finding a new profession because they won't be able to afford the insurance.
That's per month.
Jana Potter and her husband both work for Green County Tech School District.
They were shocked to find out at the start of the school year their insurance premiums would be skyrocketing in 2014.
"They were looking at possibly up to 400 percent increase in premium rates and it turns out for the Bronze [plan] that it was a 343 percent increase," Potter said. "For Gold and Silver [plans], it was like 43 percent to 48 percent."
Lawmakers said nothing can be done about the situation until the fiscal session in February but the new premiums will already be in effect.
Potter said she has 15 years of teaching experience and a master's degree, and is making about 40,000 dollars.
Her husband has been coaching seven years and also has a master's. He makes about $42,000.
They have two kids.
Potter said her plan will go from about $150 to about $200 per month. Their kids are on her husband's plan, which will go from about $350 to over $600.
"There's no physical way we can pay our bills and take care of our kids and pay our insurance premiums, too," Potter said.
"It's time that we take a united stance, a united front and say enough is enough," said Green County Tech High School principal Scott Gerrish.
Gerrish said the school district was closed Monday to allow 37 teachers to travel to the state Board of Education's meeting in Little Rock.
He's concerned about the impact it could have on the state's teachers.
"We hear from single mother teachers, we hear from cafeteria workers and other support staff who may have a lower income where the effects are going to be even more drastic in their households to the point where they may have to change professions or drop the insurance completely because they just simply cannot afford it," Gerrish said.
"We are the backbone of the entire nation," Potter said. Teachers are going to end up leaving the profession. That's what's going to happen because we can't afford the insurance."