As all are aware, the issue of employee monthly cost sharing for the National Health and Welfare Plan was at the core of this round of bargaining. In the end, the imposed contract provides for no increases in annual copays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket maximums. The plan design changes enacted consist of expanded coverage for autism spectrum disorder, hearing aids and speech therapy.
That is the good news. The bad news is the imposed agreement reinstated the 15% employee monthly cost share. The 15% employee cost share on monthly premiums has been around since the early 2000’s but has been capped at set amounts during various bargaining rounds. For example, employee contributions were capped at the lesser of 15% or $200 in 2010. This was repeated in 2012, when employee contributions were again capped at $200. In 2016, monthly employee contributions were capped at the lesser of $230 or 15%, which is when the $228.89 rate we grew accustomed to was enacted. As you can see, for nearly 7 years now our 15% contributions were frozen. During this time, plan rates have continued to rise. As a result, pursuant to the terms of the National contract, our rates will increase on January 1, 2023, to 15% of the current plan cost. This will result in a monthly employee cost share for 2023 of $309.21. That rate will remain throughout the plan year and will be reevaluated at the 2023 Joint Plan Committee meeting, at which time the 2024 rates will be set.
We did obtain a side letter in this round that may provide some relief for monthly contributions, should they rise significantly in the coming years. As stipulated in a side letter to the National contract, the employees’ monthly contributions will have a frozen cap of $398.97 for 2025 and each year thereafter, until renegotiated next round.