Uncertainty over the impact of the Affordable Health Care plan, and rising insurance costs are causing concern for many employers.
Hamilton county's largest employer is the department of education with 4000 workers---mostly teachers.
One of the key factors for them is spousal coverage.
At last week's work session, Hamilton county school board members were told to expect increases in the cost of employee health benefits. Blue Cross and Cigna have both made proposals...and both show costs going up.
GIL HIGHLANDER, HAMILTON CO. EDUCATION ASSOCIATION "The plan is to increase the insurance by 75-dollars per month, its about 900 dollars a year...and that's going to take money out of some of our teachers' pockets if their spouses are covered by county insurance."
Gil Highlander is a geometry teacher at Soddy-Daisy high school. He says such an increase could cost the district in another way.
GIL HIGHLANDER "the biggest concern we have is for our students, but its hard to attract good teachers if we start ..uh..modifying benefits, or deleting benefits."
The Hamilton county school district is self-insured, although not part of the Tennessee Health Care program.
RICK SMITH "The new affordable health care act, talks to employees...and a certain part of the dependents..infants..it does not speak to spouses."
The proposed plan would not affect employee coverage costs..just spouses.
RICK SMITH "We're not by law...we're not bound to insure dependents..that's completely accurate..but as we get into design features as we move forward, its going to be quite interesting to see how they manage the spouse piece of this."
The administration figures about 50% of all district employees carry dependents on their coverage.
GIL HIGHLANDER "You can't really cut costs when something's going up 12% a year."
On the other side of the ledger, the state has mandated a 1.5% increase in teacher pay this year, which should off-set some of the insurance increase.
The school board will likely make the decision on coverages this month, so that it can be presented to the Hamilton county commission for approval in May.