Governor Terry Branstad says he along with other statewide elected officials and all 150 members of the legislature should start paying for 20 percent of the health care coverage state taxpayers now provide them.

“If you look at most private sector (companies), employees pay at least 20 percent,” Branstad says. “Some pay more than that and, obviously, if you’re a farmer or self-employed, you pay 100 percent.”

For the second year in a row, Republican legislators have proposed requiring all 45,000 state employees, including legislators, pay $200 per month toward their health care coverage. Branstad says that’s unlikely to happen as it would require re-opening union contract negotiations. He suggests legislators should pass his alternative plan this year.

“I do think it would make sense for those of us that are elected officials and legislators to pay at least 20 percent of our health insurance,” Branstad says. “I think we could lead by example by doing something like that.”

According to Branstad, 84 percent of state employees — and that includes him and legislators — currently pay nothing toward their health insurance.

“I think that’s just and that needs to be corrected,” Branstad says, “and I want to do what I can to see that that happens.”

According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. citizens who received health care coverage through a private employer in 2006 paid nearly $3000 out of their own pockets to cover over a third of the premium costs.