So, I got a health care bill today. I was asked a question in a comment the other day: why do Alaska State benefits suck so much? Well here is an example. The bill was for $403.

The State contributed $2.02. $2.02. I am not kidding. Gee thanks. I think the deductible is like $125,221,454,955 or something. It is basically like having catastrophic insurance. But the incredibly stupid thing is that the State pay $830 a month for my health insurance. I pay another $60 PLUS pay the bills. Wow. Someone working for the State sold the employees right down the river. I paid $236 a month in California and the benefits were comparable. But almost $900 a month for this crappy plan? Furthermore, the State has all kinds of exclusions that DO NOT count towards your deductible. Like going to the doctor more than once a year. I am not kidding. If it is excluded all the money you spend say, going to the doctor, does not count towards your deductible. Try having a kid that needs shots, wellness checks etc. One of the reasons I moved here was to not have to worry about health care bills anymore. Since moving here I have paid, or owe, thousands in health care bills for my healthy family. I guess it would be cheaper for my little girl to get polio or something. At least that is how the State sees it. It is total BS. The other reason Alaska benefits suck is retirement. At least for those of us in Tier IV. Instead of "defined benefits" we get "defined contributions". I learned the difference today. With defined benefits, when you retire you get a set pension. So you don't have to worry about retirement. Not bad, especially since, by statute, lawyers who work for the State cannot have any outside employment. Trade potential wealth for a secure retirement. Ok. But, for those of in Tier IV, we get no such benefit. We get some money dumped into a investment account. If it succeeds, we have a retirement. If our plan fails, or the broker runs off with our money or makes bad choices or whatever, then we eat dog food from age 65 to death. I heard that the State is having such a hard time recruiting employees now with these crappy benefits that they may improve them. Although I do not regret my life here one bit, I might not be here if I had known the truth about the benefits before I came here. Don't come to Alaska to work for the State if you expect good benefits. They died back in Tier I or II I think. Just expect to have to pay more for less and you'll be good.

Next time: a new truck, immigration reform (YAY?), the week of July 4, bear baiting, the move and why Alaska DUI laws are as stupid as hell.


operator101 said…
All you do is complain. Since you don't like the health care insurance or your retirement plan (which, I agree, totally sucks) as a Tier IV employee why don't you just quit?

Seriously. Go hang your shingle down on the Kenai. There's plenty of crime down there and there are paying clients, you know. Then you won't be so freaking unhappy.
Wish I could. But immigration laws won't let me. It is not true that ALL I do is complain. Sometimes I am happy. Sometimes not. Ironic you agree it totally sucks but then think I shouldn't comment on it. I'm sorry but the benefits suck ass. There. I complained some more. P.S. If you don't like what I have to say I think there are about 65 million blogs. Go find another one.
Anonymous said…
Holy smokes, that is crappy. That is beyond crappy and almost inhuman. Something needs to change! No wonder Alaska is DYING for state employees! They will literally hire anybody with a pulse now in some offices.
Why?! Nobody in their right mind would take such a job, especially if they have a family. Say you are on perscription meds or have diabetes or a young child who gets ear infections, colds, strep throat, ect. Or a wife who needs medical care post partum. You would be financially crippled after a year.
I almost took a job in Alaksa 3 years ago as a state employee. Thank god I didn't. I wish the best of luck to you my friend and pray for the health and safety of your family. That damn state legislature needs to pay more attention or suffer an even worse brain drain then is going on. Holy smokes, I am still in utter shock...
Anon, it is not just me. You should hear the horror stories. You are right....I have a healthy family and pay out the ass. If you had a special needs child or something you would have to declare medical bankruptcy I think. The "one visit a year" thing is what kills me because NONE of that money goes towards the deductible.
operator101 said…
immigration laws? sorry; talk about sucky things...

I don't think you shouldn't comment on the sucky aspects of being a Tier IV employee. I said "All you do is complain." and then recommended that you quit. I'm a Tier III so I don't have as much to complain about. I most certainly would look to get another job if I was stuck in Tier IV.
And Operator I disagree. I do NOT just complain. Read more carefully. How many times have I written about how much I love Alaska? I also wrote that I don't regret my life here. I'm not going to quit just because the benefits suck. Besides I hear they may make us Tier IV Tier III to stem the losses. I was asked to explain why our bennies suck so much. It just isn't fair to say "all I do is complain". P.S. our benefits really do suck.
Anonymous said…
To the poster above, it's his blog and he can talk about what he wants to. On another note, how is Alaska not hemoraging talent with a benifits package like this? Something doesn't seem right here. I mean, who in their right mind would incure the debt and spend the time to go through law school only to live a very precarious life? I live in Florida, and the state of Alaska puts up job postings in some of our legal publications. Are they really THAT desperate for people? I checked out the pay scale, and it's not stellar. What am I missing? Is the scenery really THAT great? Help me out here.
Well anon, we all have our reasons for being here. I really didn't mean for this post to be "complaining", as anyone who knows me, knows I am as glad as hell to be here. But I really didn't research the benefits well enough before coming. I took a $13,000 pay cut to be here, thinking the bennies would equalize it. Not so much. The problem is that it is hard to live the "Alaska lifestyle" when your income goes to medical and retirement savings. J wants another baby. How much is that going to cost? My only advice to everyone is check the benefits BEFORE accepting a job here. Even the first poster acknowledged that those of us in Tier IV (i.e everyone hired after July 1, 2006) are hosed. We are.
FishTaxi said…
Alaska is a great place to live and but not work. We should do what hawaii does. require all companies with over 5 employees to cover medical expenses with the state covering 50%. they might be HMOs but the plan attracts doctors. the way it is now your hard pressed to find a doctor.

and its not just the state. most employers insurance really only cover major medical at high costs to the employee.

rontulin said…
The healthcare in AK really stinks. God forbid anything serious happens to you in the bush. We used to have a lear jet in Barrow that would bring you to Anchorage in the event of something serious. I remember when my son got scarlet fever. The PD's office is not so bad. The state retirement plan is very good. You make more money in private practice, you can do what you want, but different kinds of headaches. Each have their own different appeal. And, dont get me started on immigration reform. Tulin
Anonymous said…
So, why do you start every post with a big "SO"?????
That's what she said
Anonymous said…

You're a whiner... what some call a watb.

..and in each and every case, you walk right into whatever it is you start bitching about, when with a minimum amount of planning or research, you could have avoided that which you bitch about.

My benefits suck. You're fortunate to have any, millions don't.

The immigration laws won't let me. Yet you could have read them before you chose to immigrate.

My wife wants another baby. What's your consideration? What's that gonna cost? Ah, yes, the money. The cost. What is that going to cost.
Anon, you're right. With some research I could have avoided some problems. Hence my blog. For those that want to know more about benefits, now they can without having to learn the hard way. Your point is that I should be grateful for what I have. Well I am. Does that mean that I can't complain? Where is the fun in that? Again, as I have said before, I enjoy writing on my blog. If you find it offensive or "whiny" then simply take your reading time somewhere else. You sound like someone with good benefits by the way. Kadee cost $8000 and she was as perfect as could be. I'm sorry that I'm not in the position you are at where I can spit out babies without thinking about the medical bills. $8000. For a healthy baby. That is something to consider.
Anonymous said…
Let's hope your children never read how easily you reduce them to simple equations of your anxiety over money.
They won't have to read it, I'll tell em how much they cost me. Little bastards.

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