Why is our struggle to change the narrative around health insurance so difficult? What are we doing to change it?
The healthcare industry has grown to a $4 trillion dollar industry in the U.S. and is made up of hospitals, insurance companies, insurance brokers, and pharmacy, and all of them continue to rake in profits. Colorado’s hospital profits are the highest in the nation!
Jeffoc’s consultant, Lockton Companies, is the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage firm . Lockton is the district’s go-to source for health insurance oversight and negotiation of our rates and premiums with Kaiser and Aetna, who are also multi-billion dollar companies. Lockton agents attend benefits advisory committee as presenters and as participants, influencing votes and decision-making outside of the bargaining process and behind closed doors.
Last Spring, JESPA leaders walked out of the Benefits Advisory Committee when Lockton and district administrators attempted to force a vote to increase insurance premiums. Following the action, the premium increases suddenly came down by millions of dollars, showing us that if we would have accepted the premiums proposed, they would have been worse.
For two years in a row, JESPA leadership fought back at the bargaining table and filed multiple class action grievances, resulting in the current negotiations around the Benefits Advisory Committee.
Another source of the problem is the district’s FLAT contribution of $549 per month per employee enrolled in health insurance. That flat contribution means that even if our health insurance premiums go up, there is NO impact on the district’s budget. The increased costs and worse plans fall solely on the employees. That means the lowest paid employees are impacted the MOST. JESPA bargaining unit employees report that either most or all of their income is paying for their health insurance, and leaving little if any for any other costs of living OR that they are forced to choose an individual only plan with the highest deductible.
This adds to significant problems like members forgoing treatment or medications because they can’t afford their doctor visits or medications, making health conditions even worse!
Jeffco administrators, whose participation in the BAC has often outweighed JESPA’s, feel the least amount of the burden of health insurance premiums as their average salary is over 100k and they are taking raises that far outweigh any premium increases, and they are able to afford the better benefits plans and cover family.
Changing the way business is done at the BAC is our first step!
JESPA is focused on changing the narrative and practice around health benefits by first demanding to negotiate the structure of the Benefits Advisory Committee. Our goal is a fair, transparent system that is not dominated by insurance brokers, consultants, and district administrators who have no skin in the game. Our goal is to enforce the agreement and bring all final decision-making to the JESPA and JCEA bargaining tables.