Prior to July 1, 2011, the Burlington Area School District offered employees health insurance through Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

                  This was one of many plans offered by the state’s group insurance board. BASD selected a new health care plan effective July 1 through the Business Health Care Group (BHCG) out of Franklin. In so doing, we saw an $806,777 decrease in the medical insurance budget for 2011-12 – a promising step in the right direction.

                  However, because BHCG is not a plan offered by the group insurance board, BASD avoided having to comply with the health premium mandate in Act 32 (Assembly Bill 40 which evolved from Act 10). That mandate states, in part, that an employer may not pay more than 88 percent of the premium after Jan. 1, 2012.

                  We, the taxpayers of Burlington the ultimate employer, are paying 100 percent of the premiums for BASD’s 310 employees enrolled in health insurance.

                  Based on current single and family health plan enrollment and corresponding monthly premiums, requiring employees to contribute 12 percent of the premium would have amounted to a budget reduction in excess of $560,000 for 2011-12.

                  A 12 percent contribution per paycheck would be $31.56 for single and $85.68 for family. My family pays $156.91 twice a month for a health plan not too dissimilar from BASD’s. That is nearly two times what a BASD employee would have had to contribute. I do not think 12 percent is outrageous. But zero percent surely is.

                  My suggested next step would be to ask you to contact your legislators in Madison about the loophole in Act 32 – Section 1156ym. 40.51 (7) (a). The 88 percent maximum contribution by a public employer to health care coverage should apply to any such plan whether or not it’s offered by the group insurance board.

Sharon Asher

Town of Burlington