It's not often that an online database generates interest and stirs passion, but the January posting of Michigan school districts' school employee health insurance costs did just that. Through FOIA requests, the Mackinac Center assembled the health insurance plans for more than 95 percent of the state's school districts into their School District Health Insurance Database. Some of the findings were eye-popping. For instance, the average cost of a family plan premium for a teacher is $15,800, which is 29% higher than the state average for the same type of plan. The database received extensive media coverage, and Lansing officials took notice as well. Several legislative offices contacted the Mackinac Center after hearing about the database, including that of the Senate Majority Leader who two weeks later introduced legislation that would require government employees to pay a greater share of their health care premiums.
"The Mackinac Center's innovative program to counter the 'gimme gimme gimme‘ demands of public school employees is a model other think tanks can apply in their states. By conducting careful and thorough research, and combining that with skilled advocacy in the court of public opinion, Mackinac may achieve the seemingly impossible:create a requirement for public school employees to pay a greater shareof their health care premiums. Taxpayers across Michigan should stand up and cheer," said John Kramer, SPNovation Judge and Vice President for Communications at the Institute for Justice.
For more information on SPNovation Awards or to nominate a member organization, please visit www.spn.org/spnovation.