Guild asks questions about AP’s proposed health insurance plans

The News Media Guild questioned the Associated Press about its proposed health insurance changes, including what percentage of the U.S. population meets each of four wellness markers that the company wants to use as a reason to increase premiums.

For details on the company’s health insurance proposal, click here:

For updated version of company’s health proposal, click here.   (See note of changes at bottom of story).

New slide four, with more information on prescription drugs, click here.

For link with comparison of current plan vs. proposals for 2014 and 2015, click here:

AP’s FAQs about its proposal, click here.

AP’s details on vision care proposal, click here.

The AP has proposed that Guild-covered staffers who don’t meet three of four wellness markers would pay $50 more a month in premiums. Those markers involve BMI, healthy cholesterol, non-fasting glucose and blood pressure.


The Guild bargainers, joined by health care consultant Allen Brawer, asked several questions about the markers, which the company says are based on guidelines set by the National Institutes of Health.

The Guild also asked if there’s any evidence that these wellness plans work, and the company said there are studies, but they aren’t specific to the AP’s proposal. The Guild also asked if premiums would be reduced for a staffer who didn’t meet the markers in January but did a few months later or would that staffer have to wait a year for the reduction.

The AP said its proposal includes no changes to the dental plan. UHC would administer its proposed vision plan, and dependents could be covered under it, the company said. The current reimbursement of $200 a year for up to three years would go away, the company said.

The AP’s proposal would not allow spouses or domestic partners to use the company plan as their primary insurance if they have insurance available elsewhere. The Guild asked for a list of staffers who would be affected by this change.

The Guild also asked how much each part of its proposals would save the company. For a comparison, the Guild asked how much a 1 percent raise would cost. The company the current gross payroll for editorial and technology units is about $97.6 million, so a 1 percent pay raise costs about $976,000.

The company said it was researching the Guild’s questions and would have some answers by Tuesday and others within a couple of weeks.

The company also provided more details on its proposal to end the premium plan in 2015 and offer the choice of a basic plan, which the company calls a traditional plan now, and a consumer-driver health plan. The company said both the Guild’s premium and basic plans would qualify eventually as “Cadillac plans” under the Affordable Care Act and would be subject to an excise tax.

The Guild will post the company’s documents on the Web site when they’re available.

The company plans to make a presentation on its finances Friday afternoon.

At the table for the Guild were Kevin Keane, Martha Waggoner, Don Ryan and Pat Turley, along with Allen Brawer.

Tom O’Hara of Mercer joined the company at the table as its health care consultant. Representing the AP at the table were Steve Macri, Jean Maye, Ellen Fegan, Santiago Lyon, Sue Gilkey and Hilda Auguste.


AP says these are the changes in the slides on its health insurance proposal:

Slide 2 – noted the graph is based on all large employers.  The stats for northeast large employers and all small employers is simply additional information.

Slide 4 – Correction – vision benefit.  Pharmacy benefit reformatted for clarity.

Slides 6-10 – defined PEPM, clarified excise tax

Slide 11 – defined Per Capita