Members approve health care switch

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.

9 thoughts on “Members approve health care switch

  1. Now that we have reopened the health care benefit twice in order to save the company money, perhaps they will consider a midcontract wage reopener. Oh, right. Out of the question. Silly me!

  2. I wish I understood the smoke and mirrors behind the reimbursement thing. I am sure there is some kind of tax advantage to the company inconveniencing us and destroying our household budgets (already devastated by inflation and years without pay increases) by making us come up with the money up front and then paying us back when they get around to it. I am currently seeking part time work to help with my Hearst health care costs. Thanks a lot, Hearst.

  3. The post gives total maximum exposure figures of $2,750/$4,750, counting the deductible. Does this mean counting the 10 percent copays, or do they go on ad infinitum?

    • The 10 percent share is capped at $2,000 for an individual or $4,000 for a family plan. (That means you’d have to incur $20,000 in medical expenses under the individual plan or $40,000 under a family plan.) Once that happens, you’d be 100 percent covered again.

  4. The Times Union publishes sympathetic stories about people in the community having to make hard choices involving things like their medications. As I look at the monthly budget and try to decide which of three things I can ignore this month — medication, heat or mortgage — since I can’t possibly pay all three, I wonder if I should call in and get interviewed.

  5. Hey, being retired and all, I don’t know what is going on down there, so glad I came in here, which I have not done lately, which is my own fault ’cause I was sort of wondering WHY I got a new card from Blue Cross recently. Wow, this is swell, now I get to fight with them and CVS about my prescriptions all over again. Sort of like Russian roulette, only with our health care. Gee, this is wonderful. Thanks so much, company I spent my whole life working for.

  6. I realize now, after hearing about the “lay-offs”, that I am not so bad off, at least I am retired and pretty old, so I get S.S. These very talented people, who I know and have worked with, and I know who they are now, have my sympathy, and I wish them the best. I am so sorry.

  7. Two days without heat thanks to the switch to a high-deductible health plan. Two more days to go before I can get a delivery of fuel oil. Maybe I can come into the office and get warm.

    Don’t bother telling me about the interest-free loan from Hearst. I am not interested in being in their debt.

Leave a Reply