Plan puts NC health insurance on chopping block

By EMERY P. DALESIO

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Most of North Carolina's state workers, teachers and retirees would pay more for health insurance but get fewer benefits under a half-billion-dollar change being considered by lawmakers.

Legislation unveiled Tuesday also would scrap a provision that pushed cigarette smokers and those who were very obese into less-generous coverage until they quit puffing or lost weight.

The state health insurance plan bailout would cost $515 million, with most of that coming from reduced benefits and higher costs for its 663,000 members. The measure would, for the first time, force all active state employees and those retirees in a more-generous plan to pay monthly premiums of between $11 and $22 a month.

Lawmakers pumped $675 million into the plan two years ago but rising costs have contributed to budget gaps.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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I am a retired educator and I think it is fair for us to pay for our benefits. Now I hope the government will pass a law that all federal and state budgets "MUST" be balanced.

I am a teacher and I am in favor of state employees paying on health insurance. When we talk about how low our salaries are, lets remember we chose this profession knowing the salary- that's public knowledge. Also, most of those working in the private sector do not get two months a year off. I love my job and I thank God every day for the opportunity to teach. I hope I never lose sight of why I am doing what I do. I am 61 years old and have worked many years in the private sector also. Believe me, my state job is better than anything I had in the private sector, and I had good jobs including being a successful real estate agent. No, we are not Wisconsin, but I am afraid many have the same mentality that got Wisconsin in the financial fix they are in. These are hard times. We all have to be willing to give a little or we will be required to give a whole lot more because the funds will not be there. $22 a month is nothing. I expected it to be five times that amount. We still have it good!!! The entitlement mentality that permeates our society is why we are where we are now. Let's pull together and turn our state around. With this I also want to say to our politicians. Don't do this to close the gap in our budget and then find somewhere else to spend the money. STOP SPENDING AND MANY OF US WILL BE WILLING TO HELP IN THIS CRISIS TIME. BUT DON'T REQUIRE OF US WHAT YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DO ALSO.

quit whining. Many in the private sector pay much higher and have had no pay raises in several years.

Want to complain; go see Mike & Bev. They're the ones who authorized all that borrowing to maintain Medicaid; and now that ugly duck has come home to roost.

Working for the state generally means you get paid less, and in the past two years it translates to no raises. As well as a lack of a bonus as compared to the private sector.

The only benefit is a "steady" job. But then again, who really knows.

I myself would gladly pay the extra money if it meant that the budget would be improved by that much. I'm also the type of person that would rather see a small pay cut across the board rather than 5,000 people laid off at a time like this.

I've talked with a couple people (private sector) who make 3 or 4 times what I do while working for the state. They envy my consistent 40 hours a week, while I envy their higher salary and 50-60 hour week.

It all depends on your current position. Of course "those other guys" have it better. They always do

There are plenty of people who would love to have a job working for the State so quit crying.

State employees have recieved no pay raises in 3 years and now have to pay more insurance. We are not Wisconsin, we do not have a union. We are at the mercy of politicians for any benfits we receive. You look at what is going on in other union states and automatically apply it to NC. We have mortgages, families, bills like everyone else but unlike everyone else we depend on politicians for anything we get. Some of you morons think State workers are so well paid, and receive so many benefits but that is far from true. The rank and file workers who actually do the business of the State are the ones who suffer, not the political hacks in Raleigh. I wish we could strike so for once and all citizens would see what would happen to this State if we decided to stay home just one day. Your ignorance of what State workers actually make is far, far less than Federal employees and the private sector doing an equivalent job. You might see where University Chancellors, etc. make 100's of thousands of dollars yearly. You can be assured that the ones who teach, who maintain the campuses, provide security are not making any where near what the State has given to employees whom have a title. They are in with the politicians and they are rewarded. You need to cut a little slack to rank and file workers because your statements are false, malicious and stupid.

Since being transferred from Dorothea Dix Hospital to the other hospital in Butner I have suffered financially. I'm driving 104 miles/day with no pay increase and no gas allowance. Thanks to our great Gov. and the politicians whom decided they would cut cost by sending us there. We haven't had a raise in years and some of us are getting cash advances just to survive. I have paid more money in gas and car repairs since working at the new hospital. The grand total for my checking account is $4 after I have written all of my bills for the month. Try surviving on $4 for the rest of the month without knowing where your next dollar will come from. It doesn't concern the politicians because they have their gigantic salaries to play with. I have cancelled life insurance, dental and disability insurance because I can no longer afford it. I am highly disappointed in the state system.

I agree w/you about the moron politicians NC had put into office -- how about the Gov take a pay cut of 1/2 her salary along w/min pay for all of the ones sitting on their tusshes coming up w/these absurd bills/policies/cuts. Politicians would not be where they are w/o teachers and here we are going into our 4th yr w/o a raise - now they want to charge us for ins, which I admit is not alot, but still. And EDUCATION lottery $ - what a joke! The amt the state has taken in alone w/prevent teachers positions from being cut. Next thing you know they will ask students to stay home and get their education online.
I agree - it would be nice to get all state emps to strike 1 day and stay at home Our great gov. stated she was 'for teachers and education because she had been there' - evidently she wasn't 'there' long enough to feel the pinch of the $.
We will never dig out of the hole we have been put in by our 'concerned politicians who will look out for us if we put them in office' - YEAH - RIGHT!

Most of North Carolina's state workers, teachers and retirees would pay between $11 and $22 a month.Why is it that the people on social security have to pay $95 a month for medicare,plus extra for prescription coverage.I think the public sector should have to pay the same for their insurance as those on social security,(why is social security medicare not on a percentage bases instead of a fix amount,is is not fair for those how receive a small amount).It is not fair for all the tax payers to be expected to cover insurance for a sector of employees.

taxpayeriam you do know that this is in addition to what we already have to pay to cover our dependants right? I make on average $2200 a month before taxes and deductions. Basic medical coverage for my wife and kids costs me over $500 a month, then add in dental, and eye coverage. Before that even comes out there is TSERS retirement that is a manditory 6% of my check. That $11-$22 a month is diapers, and milk or gas that we will have to go without. All of this for a job that no one ever thinks about. You expect me to keep the worst members of society behind bars where they belong, on very little pay. I would gladly play for my own insurance if my salary was on par with federal and private sector levels.

State employees are taxpyers too and make less in our field than those in other, comparable fields. State employees haven't had a raise in years and there isn't one in sight. when I worked in the private sector I got raises and bonuses not allowed State employees, I took a pay cut to become a State employee....I know the ones on a fixed income deserve more than they get but they don't have to fill their gas tanks twice a week to go to work now do they?? or pay the high state and federal income tax??? If you really want to look at someone to compare then take a look at our federal employees, look at the ones sitting behind the desk at the SS Dept who make twice what we make as a state employee and get bonuses and raises.....NC State employees do not have the luxurious lifestyle some would think and now they want to take some of that away???? They need to start at the TOP when they start cutting!!!!!!!

Wouldn't it be nice if some of our leaders would lead by example? An example from my classroom comes to mind: The heater was broken and my students were very cold, as was I. We were all cold together. My students kept complaining about how cold they were. Only when I reminded them that they got to leave my cold room in an hour but I had to stay in it all day did they stop complaining. I feel that those of us being asked to make sacrifices might cry out less if we new those asking it of us would be willing to make similar or greater sacrifices themselves. Never ask people to do something you yourself would not be willing. You raise a great point.

All State Employees need to take heed. The only way to get the politicians attention is to cancel your insurance. Let every state employee cancel their insurance, and the BC&BS lobbyists will be in a frenzy. Because they paid the politicians to give them exclusive right to get insurance in NC, taking out any competition. The politicos will spend money on their pet projects and balance the budget on the back of the state employee...so...I and others will cancel their policy. What will I do if I need to go to a Dr...well I guess my name will be Pedro Rodrigeze...I speek little English...you give me Doctor Free....Si?

For retired state employee's the insurance is a joke, they don't pay crap and have a very large deducible. It cost the tax payers of NC $336 a month when they could get a F plan for about 150 dollars a month and that pays every thing medicare covers with NO deducible and no co-pay.
Look how much the would save the tax payers. If the tax payers of NC know how they were getting shafted they would do something about it.