Health insurance gets competitive in Michigan

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Necessity drives competition. A bill passed by the Michigan legislature last fall will require school districts to solicit at least four bids for employee health insurance coverage. Currently, it's an arm of the state teacher union that provides health coverage to about half of all Michigan teachers, a noncompetitive process that, according to a survey by Standard and Poor's, iscosting Michigan districts 42 percent more than the national average in 2004.

Teachers fear loosing a plan with low co-pays and premiums, but any changes in the offing won't happen until current contracts expire.