In Tuesday's editorial the you stated that state workers should pay a portion of their health insurance premiums for some unstated principle and to save tax money.
Charging employees a portion of health insurance premiums is a deceptive way to cut pay. Take home pay decreases when premium costs are added. Worse, that cost is set to an arbitrary percentage. Employers can adjust that percentage each year while claiming that pay has not been cut.
The primary argument for sharing insurance premiums is to encourage employees to be more frugal. That is ridiculous. Co-payments on drugs and office visits encourage employees to minimize use. Splitting the premium has no appreciable effect. For employees there is only one choice: to take the insurance or not. One could argue that employees will minimize usage to keep premiums down, but that same logic suggests that employees already minimize usage so their employer can afford to increase pay. The connection between an individual's usage and their premium is so indirect that it is irrelevant. As for the state, the prior system already charged for selecting more expensive plans; this is not an improvement.
The honest approach is to cut wages directly. If there is some principle at stake, move the entire premium onto employees. Use the savings to increase payroll so employees can afford it.
The TAA is right to fight this deceitful system. Shared premiums may be common, but that does not make them right. If the state needs to save money it should be honest and issue across the board pay cuts. Concealing pay cuts with health insurance premiums is the cowardly solution.
Alan De Smet, Madison
This (or an editted version) ran in the April 29th Wisconsin State Journal. The title ("Oppose the deceitful system") was added by a WSJ staffer when they posted it on their web site. (The online forum isn't entirely composed of letters they ran in the paper. At least I hope they don't generally run racist attacks and weird challenges on their opinion page.)
The version on the web site is clearly an exact copy from my email; it includes my erroneous "the" in the opening sentence and preserves newilnes that are artifacts of email. I don't yet know quite what ran in the paper.