Members to vote Tuesday on health-care change

Guild members will vote Tuesday on a proposed switch to a new Blue Cross health care plan.

The plan has benefits and downsides, but overall the union’s leadership felt it was the best option we could get for our members.

The Guild convinced the company to forestall the increase in our premium share from 21 to 23 percent for a year. The union also got the company to keep the employee’s share of the deductible at $750.

The company would pay the rest of the deductible, up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. Once employees reached that level, they would be responsible for 10 percent of all medical costs except for physicals and well-child care. That share would be capped at $2,000 under an individual plan and $4,000 for a family plan.

Based on last year’s data, most employees would never have to pay that share. But last year’s data shows that about 20 percent of employees, the sickest, would pay more than under the MVP plan.

In return, the weekly share of the premium would rise from $33.81 under the current MVP plan to $35.70. If we stuck with the MVP plan, the weekly payment would leap to $51.37 and the deductible would rise to $1,000.

“The board was very concerned about the potential impact on employees who are suffering from a serious illness,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We will do everything in our power to assist people in need. Health care decisions are difficult these days, but keeping the premium down made it hard to resist.”

Publisher George Hearst said an employee who suffers financial hardship can arrange for an interest-free loan with the company. This helped make our decision.

The vote will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Executive Conference Room. Members must be in good standing to vote, and the union will be able to collect dues if you want to do so.

The Guild also asked for the company to make its insurance brokers, Rowlands & Barranca, available to answer members’ questions at 1 p.m. Monday in the Executive Conference Room.

The decision to recommend the yes vote came at the end of a day where the parties met in a closed-door session in an attempt to settle the contract and all legal issues. The company listened to the union’s proposal and promised to respond shortly. While the Guild would like to have tied the change in health care to a contract, union leaders also recognize a clock was ticking on getting the insurance plans in place for January 1. Given the ability to contain the premium cost, the Executive Board opted to send the proposal to a vote of members with a yes recommendation. The talks on a full contract settlement will continue

One Comment

  • shinhopple

    OK, so to be clear: The company pays the second part of the deductible, but we will have to find the money in our budgets to pay it upfront, right? And thus the message becomes even more clear: if you are older or have a chronic illness, the Hearst Corp. wants no part of you as an employee, no matter how long and loyal your service. Interest-free loans? With no raise for years and more coming out of our checks to pay our part of the deductible, how are we going to pay them back? Fortunately, I met my deductible early this year. That means I get a free visit to the doctor to find out which of my medications can be dropped while doing the least damage to my health.

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