A labor union dedicated to quality journalism through fair working conditions for the men and women who provide the news.

Staffers: AP’s health care proposals would really hurt us

News Media Guild members across the country are uniformly opposed to AP’s health care proposals, which would cost many staffers far more than they could afford and effectively slash their income.

People would be hurt financially whether they are healthy, have a complex chronic illness, need surgery, are seriously injured or have a baby. Guild members are speaking out about how much they would be hit:

I have a rare cancer. I’ve had two major surgeries in the past two years. I’ll probably have more surgeries and possibly chemotherapy. My out-of-pocket costs for previous surgeries under the current AP health care plan amounted to probably less than $1,000. Now, I think it’s pretty likely I’ll reach the $4,800 ceiling for maximum out-of-pocket treatment expenses under the family plan this year if AP’s health care proposal stands. My two sons are on the family plan with me. One takes a medication that currently costs us $192 a year. Under AP’s proposal, that would increase to $698. The bottom line: I see our out-of-pocket health care costs/premiums going up around $6,000 or more this year. And that’s if I stay entirely with in-network providers. I’m 57 and I’ve been healthy all my life until now. Now, when I most need insurance, I would have the worst coverage of my life under AP’s proposal.    JOAN LOWY, WASHINGTON, D.C.

I have had a kidney transplant and have chronic, recurring autoimmune disease that attacks my new kidney. The new plan would cost me about $7,000 more a year if my treatment were to stay constant _ and more if new side effects occur and treatments are prescribed, which often occurs.  MICHELLE MINKOFF, WASHINGTON, D.C.

My wife and I paid more than $1,000 in 2012 for the birth of our second child, and we would get hit much harder under the new plan, which would stress us financially. One of the biggest bills last year was the facility charge, for the use of the hospital. That totaled $9,414. Under our (basic) plan, we paid a $672 coinsurance payment, with the insurer picking up 90 percent of that bill after deducting the discount Aetna negotiated with the provider. Under the new plan, with the less-than-generous 75/25 percent coinsurance split AP’s proposing, my coinsurance payment would more than double to $1,679. That is just one of several bills you receive after having a kid. Having another baby will become a bit cost prohibitive, which is maybe what the company wants.  TOM MURPHY, INDIANAPOLIS

I had a knee replacement done late last year. It cost me about $385 dollars: a $150 deductible, a $200 hospital copay and about $35 for prescriptions. The bill for doctor fees, hospital, in-home care and physical therapy _ but not pain meds _ to date is $74,774, although UHC paid at discounted rates. If I’d had this done under the health plan AP’s proposed, my potential exposure could be up to $11,350. I can really appreciate the statement, "Don't get sick, but if you do, die quickly," because if you live, you'll be paying for a long time.  GARY MORTLOCK, SPOKANE DATA CENTER

The health plan proposed by the AP in the current contract talks would cost me at least $2,800 in the first year and more in future years, not counting any new health issues that might come up. That’s because of expensive drugs I take to keep a muscle condition I have from getting worse. What’s far more troubling than this expense, which will wipe out any ability I have to save money, is the effect it will have on families with their pressed budgets and multiple, sometimes serious, health needs. For them, the costs of this plan could be financially crippling.  WILL LESTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

My family and I are basically healthy and fit, but under this proposed plan, I would be spending more than $17,500 a year in medical expenses within the next two years. This is untenable.   MARTHA MENDOZA, SAN JOSE

My rough back-of-the envelope estimate of my cost increases under AP's plan are dramatic since I get ostomy supplies every month and will for the rest of my life. I estimate my costs in 2013 at around $1,300. Under AP's proposal, my costs _ including premium _ would rise to $3,500 in the first year and to $4,200 the year after _ AND that assumes medical costs remain the same, which they won't.   NORMA LOVE, CONCORD

Even though I am a very healthy person with no chronic health problems, my health care costs will more than quadruple in three years under the AP's plan. This is unsettling. It means that I would pay much more for health insurance if this is approved. More importantly, it also makes me fearful of what would happen -- and how much it would cost -- if I become really sick or was injured.  TAMARA LUSH, TAMPA

The AP plan would cut my salary by the $12,500 maximum, given that my wife is being treated for ovarian cancer. That is unacceptable.  STEVEN HURST, WASHINGTON, D.C.