Guild members approved a switch to a Blue Cross health insurance plan with a low premium increase but a potential high cost to the sickest employees.
The new insurance was approved by a vote of 39-7.
Under the new plan, which takes effect January 1, employees will see their weekly payroll deduction increase from $33.81 a week to $35.70, up $1.89. Employees also will see their share of premium costs stay at 21 percent for 2011 rather than rising to 23 percent as the company had originally imposed.
The deductible will also stay at $750 rather than increasing to $1,000 as the company had originally sought.
If we had stayed with MVP, the deductible would have risen to $1,000 and the weekly contribution to $51.37.
Under the new plan, however, members who use health care the most could pay a good deal more.
All employees will pay up to $750 for the deductible. Once employees reach that level, the company will reimburse them for medical expenses up until $2,000 for singles and $4,000 for family coverage.
When those plateaus are reached, employees will then be responsible for paying 10 percent of any medical costs. (Physicals and well child care do not require employees to pay a share.)
The maximum any employee will pay will be $2,000 for an individual plan or $4,000 for a family plan. (The total maximum exposure, counting the deductible, will be $2,750 for an individual or $4,750.)
“Our members recognized that this plan shifts costs, and we will monitor the impact it has on our co-workers over the next year,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “But we also realized that we would burden all employees with a large increase if we stayed with MVP, and we would have forced the company into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more for health care, which we would have expected the TU to attempt to recoup somewhere else. In the end, members weighed the issues and made the decision.”
While turnout was low, some employees told Guild leaders they chose not to vote because they are covered under a spouse’s plan and did not feel they should decide on other people’s coverage.
The Guild and company had examined a CWA fund called the United Furniture Workers Fund as an alternate option, but too many potential problems arose to make that a viable option to implement quickly.