SAG Health Plan for 2013: Senior Premiums and Budget Deficits Both Going Up

10:28 PM PST 09/18/2012 by Jonathan Handel

More tough news at the SAG P&H Plan -– and even a bizarre computer foul-up that resulted in names and addresses being randomly mixed and matched on newsletter mailing labels.

Health premiums for SAG seniors are going up on Jan. 1, the SAG Pension and Health Plan announced in its recent “Take 2” newsletter. The new rates – $50 or $100 per month – are double or quadruple the current $25 per month premium. In explaining the move, the Plan trustees said in the newsletter that “the Health Plan has a deficit expected for the remainder of 2012 which is projected to increase for 2013.”

The trustees added that they “realize the impact [the increase] will have on Senior Performers but believe the premium increase is necessary, at this time, in order to preserve the Senior Performers Health Plan coverage moving forward.”

“This is being borne on the backs of seniors,” said one senior performer who requested anonymity. “The trustees said nothing [about premium increases] during the merger (referendum).”

The move by the Health Plan follows sharp premium increases in 2010 (50 to 70 percent) and significant increases in 2011 (10 to 40 percent). Those increases affected the SAG plans for non-seniors.

The SAG Pension and Health Plan organization is legally separate from the corresponding AFTRA entity, and both are legally separate from the now-merged union, SAG-AFTRA. Merger of the unions does not automatically merge the plans. The trustees of the two plans met last month to begin discussion of plan merger.

The new premiums will be $50/month for seniors with no spouse or with a spouse or same-sex domestic partner who is age 65 on or before Jan. 1, 2013, and $100/month for seniors with spouses or same-sex domestic partners under the age of 65 as of Jan. 1, 2013. The newsletter explains the difference by noting that spouses under age 65 are not Medicare eligible, which increases the Plan’s costs. According to the newsletter, affected seniors will have the opportunity to dis-enroll family members beginning in mid-November, prior to Jan. 1.

Adding to the misery: an apparent computer snafu that saw names and addresses mismatched on “Take 2” mailing labels.

“I received a copy [of the newsletter] with my address on it but someone else’s name,” said a performer. “A friend of mine got four other people’s copies.”

The performer said that when he asked the Plan about this, he was told that it was the result of a computer error, and that the Plan would be resending the newsletter (which is sent out in hardcopy form) to all California Plan participants.

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Email: jhandel@att.net

Twitter: @jhandel

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