Employees to take 40 percent hit on health care

Employees will pay 43 percent more each week for health insurance next year.

According to numbers given to the Guild Thursday, the weekly cost for the MVP plan will rise about $10 a week. Employees now pay $23.72. The giant leap in health care costs to employees  is largely due to the whopping 5 percent rise in the employee’s share imposed by the Company.

“The insurance brokers, Rowlands and Barranca, did an excellent job keeping the year to year costs of health insurance down,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. The firm contained the premium increase to 8.9 percent.

Under the contract imposed by the Company, however, employees’ share of health-care costs will increase from 16 percent to 21 percent. Had the employee share stayed the same, our members would be paying only $2 more next year.

“At a time when our members are getting no raise, this is a very difficult hit to take,” O’Brien said. “It is especially upsetting after Publisher George Hearst broke his promise to employees and eliminated the $500 bonus after his contract proposal was defeated. That bonus would not have even covered the increased cost of health care.”

The Company said the health-care share for workers is about $2 less than it was in 2008, but that figure leaves out the fact that employees were not paying a $750 upfront deductible that year. If all used by an employee, that adds $14.43 to the weekly cost.

The deductible will remain at $750 for 2010.

One other worrisome aspect of what MVP had planned has been eliminated for now. The health care firm had said it would force employees who get name-brand drugs when a generic is available to pay both the generic co-pay and the cost difference between the generic and name-brand drugs. That would have cost some employees hundreds of dollars per perscription and potentially thousands of dollars a year.

MVP retreated from that position, and we’re grateful to Rowlands and Barranca for that, although the Guild was told MVP expects to push that issue again in 2011. MVP also retreated on a proposal to increase the co-pay for mail-order drugs.

The Guild is awaiting final confirmation of all the health-care numbers, and it will release a bulletin on this issue early next week.

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