Unions weighing health-care decision

Guild members would see 6 percent rise, no out-of-network coverage.

Union leaders met with the Company Friday afternoon and came close to an agreement on health care for 2014, but decided to get their members’ input first.

The proposal calls for switching from Blue Shield to Empire Blue Cross. The employee deductible share would stay at $750, and most benefits would remain the same. The only significant change is that out-of-network visits would not be covered.

Although those visits represent a tiny fraction of employee medical expenses, the Guild wants to hear from members who have used out-of-network doctors as to why and whether the change would be significant for them. Empire Blue Cross has a slightly larger pool of doctors than the current plan.

The switch would be less expensive than sticking with Blue Shield. By moving to Empire, the weekly premium cost for employees would be $46.51 for medical care. (Dental care, which would remain unchanged but cost 25 cents more a week next year, will add $2.51 to that bill for a total medical cost of $49.02 per week.)

Employees now pay a total weekly bill of $46.17 so the total increase would be $2.85 a week or 6 percent.

To stay with Blue Shield, the cost would rise to $51.20 a week plus the dental coverage. And that would be with a $1,000 deductible. The parties abandoned talk of switching to a multi-option plan that would have meant a major increase for families.

“The dollar amounts for this plan seem the best option,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said, “but all the union leaders wanted to hear what their members think before making a decision.”

O’Brien was joined by Chief Steward Brian Nearing and Third Vice President Adam McAvoy at the table. Leaders from the mailroom and press room also were involved.

Members are urged to ask their doctors if they take Empire Blue Cross. Those who have concerns about ending out-of-network coverage can contact the Guild at 482-9218 or by email at office@albanyguild to discuss the potential impact. The parties will meet again Thursday afternoon so please send your thoughts in by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

One Comment

  • Skeeter

    Same onerous deductible and no raise in thousands of days. I wonder if management knows how many people are skipping colonoscopies, cutting pills in half or stopping medications altogether. I know people who do/have done all three.

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