Agreement reached on 2014 health care

Guild leaders agreed Thursday to switch health care to Empire Blue Cross for 2014.

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.

Some members have asked what that means if they are sick on vacation or have a child outside the area still on their health plan. Blue Cross, like the Blue Shield plan this year, has an extensive network of doctors nationally who accept the insurance. Employees who are suddenly sick or injured are covered for emergencies.

It is only employees who go to a doctor not who does not accept Empire Blue Cross who would not be covered. That means either having to switch doctors or pay for the coverage directly.

The switch is 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 Company is required each year to present us with a comparable plan to the one we have, and we have in recent years often brought changes to the membership for approval because the plans were not comparable,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “This year, the Executive Board decided the new plan is comparable so no vote was needed. If the Company had sought to increase the deductible, cut coverage or change from a composite rate, any of those changes would have rendered the plan not comparable and required membership approval.”

O’Brien was joined by Chief Steward Brian Nearing and Third Vice President Adam McAvoy at the table.

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