Brothers and Sisters,
In my last article, I wrote about the necessity that we all look closely at our quarterly benefit hours reports. These reports are vital to the accurate reporting of your pension and health hours throughout your career here in Local 11.
Now I would like to expound on some other aspects of our benefits. The hours required to obtain a month’s worth of coverage was originally designed by our forefathers. In starting up this concept, they decided on how best to accomplish this task and they settled on 100 hours to purchase the medical plan for the month. When you take the monthly purchase price and divide it by 100 hours, you have the hourly contribution rate. Additionally, if you had the good fortune of working the whole month, the hours of contribution above 100 hours are deposited (in your name and record) in your bank hours. The bank maximum is 600 hours (equivalent to the needed hours to purchase six months of medical coverage).
There is another benefit offered to extend your medical coverage even further. It’s called COBRA. When your bank hours are about to be exhausted, you will be notified that you can purchase your medical at full price through the COBRA purchase plan. However, our health plan will offer the COBRA medical purchase at a subsidized price. The price is $50 per month for a maximum of three months. If you want to add dental and optical coverage to the COBRA coverage, then an additional fee for the coverage can be added for a maximum of three months. The price for that coverage is $75 per month on top of the $50 for the medical coverage.
So, if you have the misfortune to be unemployed for a year and you have exhausted all the health benefits your local union provides, you can still purchase the medical plan at full price (which, I might add, is substantially higher) and still have coverage. Most types of employment offer health coverage. Typically you qualify for that coverage by working a whole month, after which the employer buys the next month’s coverage. If you miss a day, the employer doesn’t have to buy the month’s coverage or the employer allows the worker to self-pay for the missing hours. These single employers also charge a co-pay to the employee too.
I tell you this because it’s only through the union that you have the benefits that support you and your family. If you don’t continually adjust and take the necessary steps to continue and maintain that coverage, you will force your benefit providers to reduce or eliminate some of those benefits.
Remember that your union is here to serve you, but it takes all of us working together to gain the “best bang for our buck!”
If you have any questions on your pension or health benefits, then please call the pension and health offices. If you would like to discuss some of the ideas with me, call the main office and I will be happy to discuss things with you.
Thank you for the privilege to serve this membership.
Gaylord “Rusty” Roten
President/Senior Assistant Business Manager