Even though I serve on the local Los Angeles Board of SAG-AFTRA as the representative of Los Angeles broadcasters, I am not speaking officially for the union, but only for myself. I can, however, share with you what I know. As always, though, official answers come from the union and the Health Plan, which are two separate entities. People must understand that the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan is separate from SAG-AFTRA, the union.
You’re aware by now that your premiums are going up, as are the eligibility requirements to qualify for coverage.
First of all, the changes are awful, and they come at a bad time, possibly the worst time imaginable. Ours isn’t the only union health insurance plan that is experiencing this. It’ll be happening to more and more plans across the country.
The vast majority of broadcasters will still qualify for coverage. And the changes don’t go into effect until January 1, 2021.
Unfortunately, the changes are necessary to save the plan and to keep it from going under. The blame lies with spiraling healthcare costs followed by the pandemic’s gut-punch, which dried up so many union members’ incomes. That meant higher costs and less money coming in.
The Trustees who control the plan faced some impossible choices, but the one thing they could not do was keep the plan at the same levels. That would have led to a collapse and EVERYONE losing coverage.
The choice they made was terrible, but it was the least terrible of terrible options.
The Trustees have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to keep the plan solvent. Please note that some of the Trustees themselves are losing their coverage — based on their own decision. The president of the union herself, Gabrielle Carteris, is losing her coverage due to these necessary changes.
The union does not control the plan. It’s managed by the Board of Trustees, half of which come from union-aligned persons and the other from employers & producers. There is no tie-breaking vote. The board is split 50-50.
But here’s some good news: The plan has put some programs and options into place to help those displaced. Call your plan representative and get more information. And there are still some state options available. As for myself, I highly recommend everyone support strengthening Obamacare and bringing about universal health care coverage, and the creation of a health insurance system not predicated on corporate profit.
Broadcasters, if you have more questions, please reach out to me, your national representative Hal Eisner, or our union’s VP of broadcasting, Bob Butler. If we don’t know the answer to your specific question, we know who does. You can also reach out to the Health Plan itself.
While these changes are hard, they will save the plan. And once we’re past the pandemic, and union members are making more money, the plan will be in a better position. No situation is permanent.