Company proposes another health care switch

The Company is again proposing a switch in health-care plans, this time to an MVP plan.

While the Company wants to quickly move the health insurance change — which could save it hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum — Guild bargainers said any agreement should be part of a full package on a contract. Guild bargainers are preparing a full settlement offer they hope to make to the Company Tuesday.

The health insurance proposal comes after Blue Shield initially proposed a 36.45 percent increase in health-care costs. Through negotiation, that hike was cut down to 27.98 percent. The Company then asked its brokers, Rowlands and Barranca, to look for alternatives.

The plan the Company is now proposing would require a smaller amount out of employee’s weekly paychecks, but it also would require a deductible of $1,500 for individuals and $3,000 for families. The Company said employees will have to pay $750 of the deductible in either case, and it will cover the rest.

Currently, people in the Blue Shield plan that covers most members pay $34.32 a week or $1,784.64 a year. Next year, that would go up to $43.93 a week, or $2,284.08 a year if we kept the same plan.

Under the Company’s proposed switch to MVP, the cost would drop to $22.20 a week or $1,154.04 a year. Employees who use their health care or get prescriptions would see an added cost of up to $750 for the deductible. However, during the period when the Company is covering the deductible (between $750 and $1,500 for individuals and $750 to $3,000 for families) employees would not pay any charge for prescriptions.

For most employees, that could mean a savings.

It gets more complicated for those who get a lot of prescriptions or whose families get a lot of prescriptions. Once the employee’s health care cost outpaced the deductible (again, $1,500 for individuals or $3,000 for families) employees would have to pay $10 for generic drugs, $30 for name-brand drugs and $50 for certain “nonformulary” drugs. You’d have to do that until you reached the plan’s out of pocket maximums, which are $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families. (That could mean up to $1,000 more for individuals and $2,000 more for families.)

Neither the Company nor its broker could say Monday how many people might be affected that way.

The Guild was first provided this information late Thursday, and members of the Bargaining Committee and Executive Board met Monday with the Company and its brokers to ask further questions. Some information, like the list of doctors and covered medications, is still to be provided.

“The Company wants us to separate this discussion from contract negotiations, so it can quickly implement this change,” said Guild President Tim O’Brien. “If we did that, it would still require a vote of the membership before any change can be implemented. However, we believe that it is not in our members’ best interest to separate out a giant cost-saver for the Company while it has not moved off a single of the givebacks it is demanding. We believe the parties should look at a total package that settles the entire contract.”

O’Brien called the insurance switch “a great motivator” for both sides to find common ground on a complete contractual agreement.

Bargaining resumes at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Executive Conference Room. Members can attend on their own time.


  • Mike Jarboe

    We have helped the company out with its special requests before. I’m fine with helping them out again, but it is time for them to start giving something in return. I say this has to be part of contract negotiations. Otherwise, we do them a favor and, once again, they will conveniently forget about it at the bargaining table.

    We’ve seen this act a few times before.

  • John Runfola

    My head is spinning. Once again, the company has presented a complex plan with deductibles, this time up to $3,000 per family, and then promises to pay the deductibles. Is this Walmart thinking?
    I have no excess money to pay up front for any deductibles. This sounds like the Bush “doughnut hole” plan for Medicare seniors. What is in this for me?
    I urge the bargaining committe to reject yet another “urgent” want of the company. I agree with Mike Jarboe. Guild cooperation is quickly forgotten at the bargaining table. Make this part of contact talks.
    I have an urgent need for a new contract, complete and fair.

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