Guild examines health care for 2016

Company and union leaders are in the midst of reviewing health-care options for 2016.

The Company and its health care manager, Rowlands & Barranca, have presented multiple options for Guild members. The best option appears to be keeping Empire Blue Cross for medical, with the deductible staying at $750, and switching to Cigna for dental coverage which would be less expensive and offer better coverage.

Times Union management also wants to offer a second option that we suspect few people would take: a policy with a $3,000 deductible employees would have to pay. Why this option? Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, companies can pay a penalty if they do not offer an “affordable” health-care option. While a $3,000 deductible might not seem affordable, the term is measured based on the employee’s weekly payroll contribution not the size of the deductible.

The switch to Cigna for dental would add some benefits over the current plan. Right now, our health insurance covers 80 percent of preventative and basic restorative services and does not cover major services like dentures and bridges. Cigna would cover 100 percent of preventative work, 80 percent of basic restorative services and 50 percent of major services. (The one caveat is the dentures or bridge would have to be for new missing teeth, not ones lost in prior years. It’s a benefit going forward, not retroactively.)

Their network of dentists is said to be similar to the existing plan, though we always encourage members to check with their providers. Some members have had their dentists drop the existing plan.

The Guild and other unions are continuing to review the options presented, and your input is welcome. At the table for the Guild have been President Tim O’Brien, Secretary Mark Hempstead and Vice President Marci Schuck.

Here is a breakdown of the options presented:

  1. Keeping the current setup, with a $750 deductible, for medical and switching to Cigna for dental. Under this plan, the weekly out of paycheck cost for employees would rise from $55.67 to $58.90, a 5.8 percent increase.
  2. Increasing the deductible to $1,000 for medical while switching dental plans to Cigna. This would cost $58.09 a week. While that’s slightly cheaper on a weekly basis, the $42.12 annual savings doesn’t seem worth the $250 increase in the deductible. Most employees pass the $750 mark.
  3. The plan with the $3,000 deductible, which would be offered as an option not instead of one of the first two plans. If anyone chose to take that gamble, the weekly cost would be tiered at $20.54 for an individual, $40.06 for a couple and $59.57 for a family. (Obviously it would make no sense for a family to choose this option as it would be more expensive.)


  • Just wondering

    So, basically, another pay cut?

    What if instead of building a “TU Town Hall” they just turned the old pre-press room into a makeshift operating theater and paid 1st-year med students in TU+ subscriptions to practice on us?

    Would that cost less than $58.90 per week? Can someone run the numbers on that?

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