Health care bargaining update -- UPDATED July 27th
Health Care Takes Center Stage in Next Two Weeks
UPDATE 1 (July 19): Our own Tom Krabbenhoft is participating in the labor coalition for this bargaining. The first two days of bargaining were completed Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Thursday was to be the next day, but has been postponed, with the next date yet to be determined. The Coalition's goal is to hold the line on your health care costs. Please be ready for possible calls to action to back up your bargaining coalition.
UPDATE 2 (July 27): Here are the 2013 monthly premium levels adopted by the PEBB on July 25:
Open enrollment when you can change plans will be in November.
Health Care Authority staff also reported to the board that a Wellness Premium Incentive Program is not quite ready for prime time, or 2013 at least, after it was brought to the bargaining table last week. They told the board they will try again for 2014.
Today's action on 2013 rates is the not the same as the bargaining over your health benefits amounts under the 2013-2015 contracts, though some of the issues inevitably intersect. And it's not tied to the grievance that AFSCME filed to recoup health care surplus funds diverted by the Legislature.
End of updates, original story below:
The next two weeks loom large over all bargaining – and over all members regardless of where they work or which contract they're under.
That's because the Federation-led Health Care Coalition next week bargains on the health care benefits amount article that will go in all state employee contracts. This is the article that typically sets your percentage share of premium costs, in this case for the 2013-2015 contracts. The bargaining will take place July 17, 18 and 19 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds in Lacey.
The following week, the Public Employees Benefits Board will vote on your health plans for calendar year 2013. This always causes confusion because the contract years are fiscal years and benefits years are calendar years.
The PEBB is set to vote July 25.
At the board's meeting on July 11, the health plan was previewed. In short, if this is the final plan adopted by the board July 25, it's good news for those in the Uniform Plan – premiums would go down at all levels and there'd be no increases in co-pays.
But for those in Group Health, premiums would go up for all levels in all three Group Health plans – Classic, Value and Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP). For instance, a single employee's monthly premium would go from $101 to $115 in Group Health Classic; for a family in the Classic plan, from $288 to $326 a month. Co-pays for emergency visits would go up for both Group Health Classic and Value.
Premiums for Kaiser Classic would go up, but they'd go down for Kaiser CDHP. Kaiser Classic would also have increases in out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles.
Even though under contract you pay 15 percent of your premium costs, if the total costs go up or down the straight dollar amount you pay may also change.
Agendas, minues and presentations from PEBB meetings are available at: http://www.pebb.hca.wa.gov/board_meeting_schedule.html
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