NMG discusses cost-shifting involved in AP’s health care proposal

The health-care insurance changes that the Associated Press has proposed represent an average cost shift of more than $2,800 per employee next year, and even higher amounts in the following two years, the News Media Guild’s consultant said Monday.

Sam Camens of National Financial Partners analyzed data that the Guild sought from AP that shows the company will save $2.87 million on the health plan in 2014, based on projected costs for that year under the current medical structure. That’s an average of $2,819.25 more for each of AP’s 1,018 Guild-covered employees.

In 2015, when the company’s proposal shifts $4.05 million to employees, driven by the move to a high-deductible plan and elimination of the premium plan, the figure increases to $3,978 average for each employee. In 2016, the figures are $4.4 million in total cost shift to employees, or $4,322 per Guild-covered employee.

“This is about the lives of our members and their children,” bargainer John Braunreiter said. “They work hard, running home to make meals and finding ways to best educate and nurture their kids. The AP’s proposal is so expensive that it could force them to choose between their health needs and those of their kids.”

Camens also questioned the AP about the company’s proposed wellness markers, which would require staffers to pay $50 a month if they don’t meet three of four health standards. He described the proposal as a “stick not a carrot” approach that doesn’t seek to change the culture but only to penalize people who aren’t able to meet the standards.

The markers involve body mass index, non-fasting glucose, levels of good cholesterol and blood pressure.