The Con Ed lockout this Summer couldn’t come at a more heady time. I’m not referring to the obvious temperature swelter but more to the employee health benefits that are at the back bone of virtually every recent Labor dispute. With the Con Ed dispute, Management’s has acquiesced on the health insurance . “Con Ed did accede to “public pressure” on Sunday by reinstating health insurance for the 8,500 members of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America, a company spokesman said. The workers have been collecting unemployment benefits for two weeks but had to pay for their own prescription medicine and doctor visits because the company cut off health coverage when the old contract expired, at midnight June 30.”
Interestingly, Unions are major stakeholders in Healthcare as their benefits have been traditionally rich incentives attracting to workers. However, with A.C.A. (Affordable Care Act) otherwise known as Obamacare their health programs are very much in danger of additional taxation or member withdrawal. Unions estimate these provisions will raise the cost of health coverage by an additional $1,000 a year. In fact, a Union members may fare better on the Individual Mandated Exchange with projected individual direct insurance dropping 70% things will open up. A lower/middle income member will likely qualify for an additional discount credit. A more affordable health plan just may be a possibility.
There are other reasons the Individual Health Plan may be better:
- Unions as other self insured group must now comply with added benefits for preventive care, maternity care, Age 26 dependent care, pre-existing condition waivers.
- No Annual Limits on essential benefits by 2014
- No Lifetime Limits
- No more mini-med plans – discount health plans are prohibited. The movie John Q , based on a true story, where a father is told his son’s transplant will not be covered based on th elicited mini-med plan covering him up to $20,000. Large companies such as McDonald’s have also sponsored mini meds.
- Cadillac Tax – By 2018 a 40% excise tax on health plans that exceed $10,200(single) and $27,500 (family).
The original Cadillac Tax was pushed back by the behest of Unions to 2018 from the original proposed 2014 date. Most Unions with generous health care packages would not be complaint within that time frame.
However, not all is grim for Unions. HHS has issued waivers to 1,625 plans covering 3,914,356 individuals were exempt from these mandates through 2014. According to Heartland “More than half of the approximately four million individuals receiving waivers are union members, including 82.9 percent of those covered in the most recently updated list of waivers.”
With current administration posts coming from Union there wouldn’t be much surprise if these allowances continue. Would it be that bold to predict for Union Members in 2014 will be allowed to use their Individual Exchange income tax credits for their Union benefits packages? Small businesses may not be as lucky.