Update to SHARE Members about Health Insurance Choices

 We have been distributing the below information via email and outside UMass Memorial's benefit fairs, and include it here in case you haven't yet received it . . . 

We believe that the hospital is charging employees too much for the 2011 premiums for Blue Cross and for Tufts. Over the last two weeks, we have been talking with hospital management, trying to get the rates down to the right amounts before everyone had to choose which plan to be on next year. Unfortunately, they have not agreed to change the rates.

Next steps – individual choices, collective action
We will not stop trying to fix this problem. However, it now looks very unlikely to be fixed before you have to choose your insurance plan. We will write soon with more information about what the problems are, what has happened so far in our conversations with management, and what we are going to do next. For now, however, you will have to pick your plan knowing what the rates are now, and knowing that the union is trying to change them, but not knowing what the final answer will be.

Which plan should I choose?
Four out of five SHARE members who take the health insurance currently have Network Blue HMO. The hospital is encouraging people to switch to their new “Employee Advantage” plan (basically the Fallon plan, with some benefits if you use UMass Memorial doctors). They are offering a much lower weekly premium rate.

Ø      Some SHARE members have told us that they will switch because of the cost.
Ø      Some will not or cannot switch, despite the cost.
Ø      Some will wait a year and see how this new plan will work out.

SHARE can neither recommend the Employees Advantage plan, nor recommend against it. It was not negotiated with the union, and we haven’t been able to explore all the details.

How is the hospital shifting costs to employees?
Management is using the low cost of the Employee Advantage plan to increase the cost of the other plans for employees. They have to pay 85% of one plan. They have created a new plan, set an artificially low cost, and they are paying 85% of that lower cost. That leaves people who don’t switch to the new plan paying 40% more for Network Blue in 2011 than they did in 2010. The hospital claims that they are not violating our contract. We disagree. And we are going to continue to fight their decision.

So choose the best health plan for you and you family, let us know how you made your decision, and stay tuned. We will send out more information soon.