8:44pm PT by Carolyn Giardina
SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Offers Reduced COBRA Premiums
The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan announced that it will offer an 80 percent reduction in COBRA premiums for eligible participants who will no longer qualify for coverage starting Oct. 1.
This follows a controversial restructuring of the union’s health plan that tightens eligibility and left critics feeling "betrayed."
“Though necessary to save the Plan, we recognize that production shutdown and the changes to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan eligibility requirements are painful for many of our participants,” said SAG-AFTRA Health Plan CEO Michael Estrada in a released statement on Wednesday. “With this in mind, the Plan Trustees asked us to develop the broadest reduced-premium COBRA relief possible so participants and their families can keep their high-quality coverage at a highly subsidized cost.”
According to the announcement, some participants who will lose earned coverage Oct. 1; January 1, 2021 and April 1, 2021 can keep their coverage if they have at least $13,000 in earnings (or 50 days for those covered under the Plan’s special rule based on days of work).
Those who qualify would have reduced monthly COBRA premiums for up to 12 months, or nine months if they are losing coverage on April 1. For these participants, Plan I COBRA premiums are reduced from $919 to $184 for a single participant, $1,663 to $333 for a participant plus one dependent, and $2,336 to $467 for a participant plus two or more dependents.
These premiums and eligibility requirements also apply to current Plan II participants who will be losing earned coverage Oct. 1; Jan. 1 and April 1.
The Health Plan (an entity controlled by a board of trustees split between management and the union) also created an Extended Career COBRA benefit for participants who have at least 12 Extended Career credits and will be losing coverage on and after Jan. 1 because of volatile earnings. Participants will qualify if they have at least $20,000 in covered earnings during their last base earnings period and lose coverage on Jan. 1 or later.
According to the announcement, those who qualify will see reduced monthly COBRA premiums – paying 20 percent of the otherwise applicable amounts – for up to 12 months if they have 12-19 Extended Career credits or up to 18 months if they have 20 or more Extended Career credits.