Company tries to gouge workers on health care

The company’s proposal on health care would raise costs for Guild members by more than a third, while the company’s costs would rise only 10 percent or less.

A review of the data presented Friday shows that the company is trying a back-door method to make employees responsible for all of the deductible not just the first $750.

While employees would still be reimbursed when passing that number, the company is now trying to take that cost and charge it back to the members each week.

For a renewal of the plan without the vision benefit, for example, the company would add $600,000 for “estimated reimbursement” to the annual cost. That’s the amount he company estimates it reimburses members each year when they pass the $750. Previously the company has always covered that cost and not sought to pass it back onto the members.

“The company knew that raising the deductible to $2,000 for a single person or $4,000 for a family would be unacceptable,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “So instead it is trying a back-door method that would charge all members for that cost even those who don’t reach the $750.”

Publisher George Hearst told the health insurance brokers a 25 percent increase in health care costs was unacceptable to the company, but he apparently had no such qualms about trying to force an even bigger increase on his employees.

If the members’ increase was at the same rate at the company’s, Guild members would pay an extra $3.96 a week for the same plan minus the vision benefit only one person used, rather than $13.94.

Another option raised the deductible to $1,000 but lowered the maximum payment under the 90/10 split to $1,500 rather than $2,000. (The Guild has sent the company an email asking whether that would also drop the threshold for paying the 10 percent to $1,500 too, which would mean more members having to pay.)

Under that option, the company says the cost to our members would go up $13.46 a week. But if Guild members paid the same rate of increase as the company, it would go up only $3.38.

“Our members have not had raises in more than 5 years,” O’Brien said. “For the company to propose raising their health care costs by more than a third is unconscionable. By trying to impose this back-door ending of its share of the deductible, the company is trying to impose a $10 a week pay cut on members that has nothing to do with the year over year increase in the cost of health care.”

Fortunately, the imposed conditions require any health care plan to be offered to be comparable to the existing one. The shifting of the “estimated reimbursement” onto the backs of employees renders this plan not comparable.

The Guild’s Executive Board will meet at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria to decide on its official response. O’Brien has also reached out to the leaders of the other unions to share his findings.


  • Ken Crowe

    The $600,000 in costs the company is seeking to impose on it is simply horrendous.
    The $3.96 per week increase equals a 0.396 percent pay cut for a member earning $1,000 per week (about the Class C rate) while the $13.94 increase equals a 1.394 percent cut.

    There are some questions about the $600,000 estimated reimbursement amount. This translates to $3,000 per member (assuming a membership of 200). The amount raised by the $13.94 increase minus the $3.96 for everyone is $103,792 for the year.

    What fund would this money go into? Who controls the fund that would contain our premium payments? Is this legal? What would happen to the money if it is not spent on reimbursements?

    The executive board should request how much money the company has spent this year and in each previous year there has been a reimbursement on the deductible. It would be informative to see the actual payments. I know in my case the company has never reimbursed me as I have never approached the $750 due to having good health.

    Is the company seeking reimbursement for the payments to members who have filed for compensation under the vision plans provided for in the contract?

    These observations are based on the numbers presented here. Also, is the company’s reimbursement as provided for in previous years guaranteed under the imposed contract or is it something that must be agreed to each year?

  • What? It's only your health

    The broader question is how are we only getting this information now?

    My wife’s company’s open enrollment period is finishing today, and they have had the information on their various plan options for weeks now. We got sketchy information for the first time Friday, less than two months before the plan takes effect.

    Forget that we’re going to be charged more and effectively have our pay cut (again).

    Now, we’re forced to choose between two health plan options with basically zero information on one of them.

    Sounds like an intelligent way to make an informed decision.

    Somehow, the company has managed to make a complicated, stressful decision even more difficult. Bravo.

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