The unions at the Times Union agreed Thursday to switch to MVP for next year’s health care after a deal was struck where the Company will pay the difference if two people in a household exceed the current $6,850 out-of-pocket maximum.
Rather than face the potential $8,000 maximum – although $3,250 of that is reimbursed by the company – the members would not have to pay any more than they do now.
The potential risk of that higher out-of-pocket maximum for families with multiple people facing serious illness was the major concern the Teamsters union and the Guild had with the proposal.
The company’s insurance manager said of the 7 people who hit the top of the out-of-pocket maximum this year, two were individuals and 5 were in family plans. In all five cases, one person in the family was the large claimant and no one else in the family spent more than $1,000 on health care. That means that no family would have faced the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum as proposed by MVP. Still, the past is no predictor of the future so there was no guarantee.
Credit goes to Stefan Krueger of the Teamsters union, who hit upon the idea of asking the Company to pay the difference if that scenario were to arise. The Company had said keeping Blue Cross would cost it $68,000 more a year, a cost it would look to make up elsewhere like cutting another reporter or press worker.
Moving to MVP would cause a weekly increase out of paychecks of $4.04, from $58.90 a week to $62.94.If we stayed with Blue Cross, the weekly premium would rise $5.54 to $64.44.
MVP is also willing to guarantee that the health care increase next year would start at no more than 14.5 percent. While that is larger than we would like, Blue Cross this year started at 29 percent. Given the great uncertainty as to what will happen next year, it is a benefit to have some limit for 2018.