SAG Health Plan Moves to Fulfill Union Leaders' Key Merger Promise

12:15 PM PST 12/15/2013 by Jonathan Handel

The plan says members may be able to combine SAG and AFTRA contract earnings starting July 1 in order to qualify for health insurance.

Moving to resolve the "split earnings" problem that was a key element of the SAG-AFTRA merger, the union announced Sunday that members whose earnings fall short of SAG and AFTRA health plan qualifying levels "may be able to combine their earnings" in order to qualify for SAG Plan II.

The move takes effect July 1, which is also the date that the new SAG-AFTRA contracts take effect. Those contracts, which have not been negotiated yet, may include a merger of the legacy SAG and AFTRA TV contracts into a single document. In that case, the SAG Plan's move may end up being superfluous, as the same result would be achieved.

In either case, the measure will fulfill a key promise made by union leaders in their campaign to merge SAG and AFTRA.

The conditional aspect of eligibility -- "may" be able -- was not explained, and the Plan said that further details would be forthcoming after the first of the year.

The qualifying level for Plan II -- the less desirable of the two SAG plans -- is currently $15,100. Beginning with the base earnings period of April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014, earnings reported to both Plans may "under certain circumstances" be combined to meet the dollar threshold to qualify for Plan II, the union said.

SAG-AFTRA said that the move "is only a first step, and the SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R Trustees are individually and jointly actively exploring additional options to qualify the greatest possible number of participants for health coverage through SAG-AFTRA work."

The union added that "both plans are putting special focus on the possibility of creating a single Health Plan. … The union will do whatever we can to encourage and support the efforts of the Plans."

The announcement came in a SAG-AFTRA email to members and a notice in the Plan's latest newsletter.

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