SAG-AFTRA accused of misrepresenting the well being plan disaster

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Opponents of the threatened cuts to the SAG-AFTRA health plan have fought back SAG-AFTRA over allegations by the leadership that the opponents are spreading “misinformation and fear”.

In a message on Sunday morning, the SOS Health Plan said the December 4 message from the official SAG-AFTRA Communications union account “purposely misrepresents the health plan crisis.”

“They insist that the truth comes first. Do we agree? Let us guide you through the five misleading points, ”said the group.

The conflicting messages came following a federal class action lawsuit with 91-year-old Ed Asner as the lead plaintiff. The December 1 lawsuit sued the Health Plan and its trustees, estimating that plan changes announced in August, due to take effect in January, will remove coverage for 11,750 out of 32,000 attendees, including 8,200 seniors. The lawsuit alleges two cases of fiduciary violations, one in which a prohibited transaction was carried out and one in which informational material was not disclosed to the planning participants. The SAG-AFTRA plan states that the lawsuit is unfounded.

In its message, the SOS Health Plan denied the union’s claim that trustees had no option but to cut services and eligibility: “There were options: Put more money into the health plan through recent contract negotiations. (2019 commercials, 2019 Netflix and 2020 TV / theater); Change the award structure. Add a new option with a higher income threshold. Use our reserves for the intended purpose: to mitigate the consequences of an emergency, in this case the pandemic. “

Opponents also questioned the union’s claim that “senior performers will not lose their health insurance; You will continue to have Medicare as your primary insurance, just as you do today. “

The SOS Health Plan replied, “Seniors will definitely lose their SAG-AFTRA health insurance” and stated that it was “a decades-old SAG benefit and a SAG-AFTRA benefit that seniors used to retire on what secured life. long secondary health insurance for participants and their spouses over 65 with 20 or more pension credits, “which has now been eliminated.

“Although members over 65 are eligible for a health reimbursement account scholarship with Medicare as their primary insurance, they must choose a secondary insurance plan in the market that may not be comparable to SAG-AFTRA coverage in terms of coverage or price,” SOS Health Plan said . “Older service providers over 65 who are drawing their pensions are now at great risk of losing their SAG-AFTRA basic pension, as their residuals are no longer considered credited income. Older artists can only use their session proceeds for qualification. This current qualification threshold is $ 25,950. “

The SOS Health Plan denied the union’s claim that “spouses are not” kicked off “by the plan:” Spouses are “kicked off” by the plan, “the group said. “If a spouse’s employer offers health insurance, that spouse must view that plan as primary, even if it is more expensive and offers poorer benefits. Spouses of living participants over 65 with 20 or more pension credits lose their SAG-AFTRA secondary insurance together with the actual participant. “

“Members with 20 or more retirement assets were promised that their widowed spouses would have SAG-AFTRA lifelong secondary health insurance until they remarried or died at 65,” the SOS Health Plan said. “That promise was broken. Spouses over 65 will also lose their SAG-AFTRA primary coverage if their participating spouse loses coverage because residuals are no longer credited. “

The SOS Health Plan also criticized the low-cost COBRA safety net, which was specifically designed to ease the transition for many participants, saying the cost of coverage was between 54% (for one person) and 213% (for a family of two or more dependents) are higher than the previous Plan II coverage.

The union insisted in its December 4 message that the trustees had no choice but to make the cuts: “The idea that premium increases or higher employer contributions alone could have fixed the health plan is simply wrong. The root of the problem is the exorbitant cost of health care – a problem made worse by the production disruption in our industry due to the pandemic crisis. Health care costs remain a key issue for Americans, and the SAG-AFTRA health plan is not immune to this and other economic forces. Structural changes were required to put the plan on a firm footing now and in the future. “

In response, SOS Health Plan said, “In their email, SAG-AFTRA combines well-founded observations with completely misleading claims. We agree that healthcare costs and the industry shutdown are massive problems. However, the root of the problems with this plan is poor management. “

Asner’s lawsuit alleges that shortly after the SAG and AFTRA health plans merged in 2017, the trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan knew that the structure of health services was unsustainable.

“What has led to ‘anger and frustration’ is the draconian changes that have harmed thousands of participants,” said the SOS Health Plan. “In 2017, SAG and AFTRA health plan participants were assured that the new SAG-AFTRA health plan would be financially viable for all members for the years to come, and the merger of the plans would strengthen the overall financial health of the plan while being comprehensive Ensure benefits for all participants. ‘”

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